Thousands of children face malnutrition—Unicef
Millions of children in Malawi are at risk of suffering from malnutrition and cholera in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, notes the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef).
A Unicef statement estimates that, by the end of March this year, almost a quarter of a million children (250,000) under five years of age are expected to be acutely malnourished, with over 62,000 expected to be severely malnourished.
A severely malnourished child is 11 times more likely to die from cholera than a well-nourished child, Unicef indicates.
In the statement, Unicef Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mohamed Malick Fall, says the UN agency is urgently calling for $155 million to respond to the impacts of flooding and cholera on children and families in the Southern Region and parts of Mozambique, which has also been affected by the cyclone.
The funds will, among other things, help the organisation provide lifesaving supplies, services, and technical support in water, sanitation, and hygiene, education, child protection, among other interventions, across all sectors.
To lessen the impacts of the climate crisis on children in the region, Malick Fall says they are focusing on building systems that can handle future shocks.
“Cyclone Freddy has taken a devastating toll. Many families in Malawi and Mozambique have had their lives swept away, leaving them with very little and putting children, and the most vulnerable in particular, at immense risk. Unicef is working around the clock with authorities and partners to meet the immediate needs of children and their families.
“Cyclone Freddy was a historic storm but, unfortunately, thanks to climate change, we know it will not be the last record-breaking storm the region will likely face. Even as we build back from the impact of Freddy, we must do so with an eye toward building resilience in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Centre for Youth and Children Affairs Executive Director Desmond Mhango has said it is unfortunate that children have greatly been affected by the cyclone.
Mhango suggested that there should be proper measures to ensure that children are safe and secure and that they are provided with clean water and nutritious food.
“It’s easier now that everybody is donating food items to needy people. But some of the food is not essential for growth and development of the children and that must be checked. These children must also be checked by professional psycho-social counsellors,” he said.
Nearly 345,200 people have been displaced and are sheltering in over 500 camps across flood-affected areas, where the risk of cholera is high.