The United Nations has reported that starvation threatens more than a million children in Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan. Conditions in other countries in Africa are also worsening – with growing hunger caused by months of drought leaving children amongst the most badly affected.
“A crisis has been developing quietly across swathes of Africa in the shadow of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, as an ever-worsening drought places increasing numbers of lives and livelihoods in danger. The people affected need help urgently, otherwise they are going to starve,” said Roland Hansen, head of Africa’s tem Malteser International’s team, the Order of Malta’s international relief Corps.
Additional factors contributing to the wave of hunger in Africa include the ongoing civil war in South Sudan, which has caused explosive inflation. In this country alone, around 100,000 lives are threatened by hunger, while five million people are in urgent need of food supplies. Malteser International is providing an ever-growing number of children with food in order to alleviate the greatest need.
In the South Sudanese capital Juba, the Order of Malta provides 2,000 children with a warm meal each day during school. A further 3,000 children in the city of Wau will also receive school meals in the immediate future. Malteser International is already helping local people with the cultivation of vegetables and cereals as hostilities in the country make conditions for agriculture increasingly difficult, and cause the price of basic foodstuffs to increase wildly. In order to ensure that displaced people in Wau have reliable access to clean drinking water, Malteser International has sunk eighteen boreholes to supply camps in the area, where around 45,000 displaced people are living.
Conditions for people in northern Kenya also continue to worsen. No rain has fallen in parts of the country for months. In this region alone, around 2.7 million people are living in the grip of a punishing drought. The situation in Marsabit is especially dire, and more than half of the county’s children are undernourished. People in the area depend almost exclusively on cattle husbandry, and eighty percent of their livestock is already dead – leaving them with no means to buy food or to feed themselves from their animals. The local health station supported by Malteser International is currently distributing food supplements to undernourished children, as well as beans and cornmeal to feed 2,500 families.