A new report by Save the Children International has revealed a shocking statistic: an estimated 17.6 million children will be born into hunger in 2023. This represents a 22% jump from a decade ago, translating to an alarming 33 children per minute entering a world where hunger will threaten their very existence.
The study, released on World Children’s Day, utilized the latest national data on undernourishment from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN estimates on the number of births. It paints a grim picture, with Africa and Asia expected to account for 95% of all undernourished babies born in 2023.
Save the Children has issued a stark call to action, urging world leaders to convene in the United Kingdom for a global food security conference to address the root causes of this severe food and nutrition crisis. The organization emphasizes that only by effectively addressing global conflict, tackling the climate crisis and global inequality, and building more resilient health, nutrition, and social protection systems can we break the cycle of hunger and malnutrition.
In addition to a global conference, Save the Children advocates for increased collaboration, engagement, and investment across sectors, along with leadership from local communities, to strengthen response planning and execution. This includes bolstering our ability to act early and prevent predictable shocks from escalating into crises.
The organization also urges world leaders to expand low-cost programs designed to prevent and treat malnutrition. These programs should encompass community-based treatment for acute malnutrition, breastfeeding support and protection, and investment in community and primary-level healthcare.
“More than 17 million newborns will this year enter a world where hunger will eat away at their childhood,” stated Vishna Shah-Little, Save the Children’s Regional Director for Advocacy, Campaigns, Communications, and Media in West and Central Africa. “Hunger will destroy their dreams, silence their play, disrupt their education, and threaten their lives.”
Shah-Little emphasized the urgency of intervention, highlighting that the future of these children is already compromised before they even take their first breath. “We must protect their childhoods and futures before it’s too late,” she declared.
While acknowledging the challenges, Shah-Little remained optimistic about the potential to reduce malnutrition significantly. “Hunger is not a lost cause,” she asserted. “We have the power to significantly reduce the number of malnourished children right now, as we have in the past.”
However, she cautioned against complacency, stressing that failure to address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition will lead to a reversal of progress made for children. “This is a global hunger crisis, and it requires a global solution,” Shah-Little concluded.