Written by Antony Peter, Health and Nutrition Technical Specialist, World Vision Canada
Good nutrition is crucial for all human beings. The fundamental source of nutrients comes from our daily food, and yet, around the world, the most vulnerable, including women and children, are unable to access the essential nutrients they need to survive, thrive and live dignified lives.
The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and global conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine, have greatly restricted the production and trade of fuel, fertilizers and essential food commodities like wheat, maize and sunflower oil. Steep increases in the price of food have been felt around the world. For countries like Canada, this has negatively impacted the affordability of healthy, nutritious meals. For those living in already fragile contexts
, it has pushed them into starvation.
Partnering with World Food Programme and USAID, World Vision Kenya responded to the needs of 74,000 people and 28,000 women and children who are facing malnutrition.
This increasing trend of severe food insecurity since 2020 is being labelled as the Global Hunger Crisis. According to the Food Security Cluster’s 2023 Global Report on Food Crises, in 2022, an estimated 258 million people across 58 countries faced food insecurity at crisis or worse levels, up from 193 million people in 53 countries in 2021. For countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Syria, the hunger crisis has pushed them into severe levels of hunger, malnutrition and mortality. In South Sudan, for example, over 50 per cent of the population is experiencing high levels of food insecurity.
The consequences of malnutrition
Worsening food security has an immense impact on the most vulnerable, especially children. When girls and boys are deprived of a nutritious diet and experience hunger, they are unable to grow, learn and play. Due to a lack of nutrients, they are more likely to experience illnesses that weaken their immune system. Children who suffer from the most severe form of malnourishment – also known as severe wasting – are up to nine times more susceptible to death from common infections compared to a well-nourished child.
For women and girls in these worst affected countries, who are often the ones tasked with collecting water, securing food and fuel to feed their families and yet are the last to eat, they also must shoulder the increasing burden of care for sick and malnourished young children brought on by the hunger crisis.
Not only does this increase their own risks of becoming malnourished, they could also be forced to abandon educational or productive livelihood opportunities that empower them for healthier and more equitable futures.
How World Vision is supporting nutrition
With the support of Global Affairs Canada, the World Food Programme, and individual donors, World Vision is responding to the needs of the most vulnerable. So far, we have reached 21.4 million people, including 11.7 million children, in the 25 countries most impacted by the hunger crisis to increase access to food and nutrition support and protect their livelihoods.
This nutrition-focused hunger crisis response has been designed to reduce vulnerability and increase human dignity for the most vulnerable. In South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Syria, over one million people – with a priority focus on women and children – are being reached to improve access to food and nutrition services.
Through skills training such as kitchen gardening, mothers and caregivers are empowered to have sustainable access to nutritious produce to nourish their children. Access to clean water, gender-sensitive sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion support good hygiene practices to fight against infectious diseases, and to maintain human dignity.
Through these activities, World Vision Canada is stepping up operations in this unprecedented global food crisis to prevent starvation and death, protect livelihoods and maintain human dignity, and we call for continued action and investment to protect the most vulnerable. We are committed to implementing measures to reduce suffering and increase the availability and accessibility of local food production, so that families and children can live healthy, well-nourished, and dignified lives.
How you can help fight hunger and malnutrition
You can help us fight the global hunger crisis in these ways: