Global Report on Food Crises, 2020


Key data points on children:  

  • More than half of the children experiencing malnutrition and its lifelong impacts are living in countries affected by food crises. In countries affected by food crises, the nutritional status of already vulnerable children is extremely concerning, with one out of two children stunted. In eight of the major food crises profiled in this report, more than 40 percent of children were stunted.
  • 75 million children under five years affected by stunting and 17 million children suffering from wasting live in 55 countries / territories with a food crisis. That’s almost half the number of stunted and wasted children globally.
  • The 10 worst food crises in 2019 by number of people in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) were:
  1. Yemen: 15.9 Million
  2. Democratic Republic of the Congo: 15 Million
  3. Afghanistan: 11.3 Million
  4. Venezuela: 9.3 Million
  5. Ethiopia: 8 Million
  6. South Sudan: 7 Million
  7. Syria: 6.6 Million
  8. Sudan 5.9 Million
  9. Northern Nigeria: 5 Million
  10. Haiti: 3.7 Million
  • In the 10 worst food crises in 2019, there were 9 million acutely malnourished children under 5 years. In terms of numbers of acutely malnourished children, the situation was particularly concerning in Pakistan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan, Afghanistan and Yemen, which accounted for nearly 20 million. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some 3.4 million children under 5 years were acutely malnourished, of whom 1.1 million are affected by SAM.
  • Major food crises where more than 40 percent of children were stunted in 2019: Yemen, Guatemala, Niger, Mozambique, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Major food crises where fewer than 20 percent of 6–23 month olds received a minimally diverse diet in 2019: Niger, Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Mali, Lesotho, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the Niger and Chad fewer than 10 percent of young children received a minimum recommended diverse diet.
  • Millions of children under the age of 5 across the Middle East and South Asia are acutely malnourished and in need of urgent nutrition assistance. For instance, in Yemen 2 million children aged 6–59 months were acutely malnourished, 400 000 of them severely so. In Afghanistan, the number of acutely malnourished children under 5 years of age increased by 25 percent from 2018 to an estimated 2.5 million children in 2019. Of them, 690 000 were severely malnourished and in need of life-saving treatment.

Key messages:

  • Food crises have a major impact on the quality of children’s diets. They affect the quantity, frequency, safety and diversity of the food children eat.
  • Children in food crises are often not able to access preventive services such as micronutrient supplementation and immunization programmes, increasing the risk of them becoming malnourished.
  • Our data indicate that in low- and middle-income countries, two in three young children are not fed the minimum diverse diet they need to survive, grow, and learn to their full potential.
  • The impact of the COVID19 pandemic on children’s nutrition security could be devastating as children’s food choices become increasingly limited. 
  • To prevent a major crisis, and to protect children from the worst impacts of COVID19, we must act now to continue essential nutrition services. 

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