The food situation is severe in many countries in Africa - especially in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Multiple factors including land and crop degradation, periodic droughts and weather-related shocks, poverty, limited access to basic food staples and essential services, contribute to emergency levels of malnutrition in many countries.
Malnutrition is not only about lack of food; a combination of other causes lead to malnutrition in children, including: poor diet at home, illnesses such as malaria and water-borne diseases, limited access to clean water and sanitation infrastructure, and limited knowledge about safe hygiene practices, lack of access to health services, and inadequate child feeding practices.
Malnutrition puts children’s lives and future at risk. Timely treatment can save them.
In addition to food insecurity, the lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) also can be deadly for children. Over 700 children under the age of five die every day of diarrhoeal diseases due to lack of appropriate WASH services. In areas of conflict, children are nearly 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal disease than from the conflict itself.
UNICEF and its partners work across sectors to scale up the response in all countries through integrated programmes involving the health, education, protection and water and sanitation sectors to reach the children and young people in greatest need.
So-called rapid response missions are also carried out by UNICEF and its partners. These missions are often the only way to reach children and families who have sought refuge in hard-to-reach, often embattled places with life-saving aid.
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The relief supplies and needs indicated are examples of the aid needed on site.