The number of pregnant and lactating adolescent girls and women suffering from acute malnutrition has increased from 5.5 million to 6.9 million – or 25 percent – since 2020 in the 12 countries hardest hit by the global food and nutrition crisis, according to a report new published by UNICEF.
The 12 countries, including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen, represent the epicenter of a global nutrition crisis that has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, drought, conflict and instability in some countries.
The ongoing crises, compounded by persistent gender inequality, are deepening a nutrition crisis among adolescent girls and women that had already shown little improvement in the past two decades.
“The global hunger crisis is pushing millions of mothers and their children into hunger and severe malnutrition,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.
“Without urgent action from the international community, the consequences could last for generations to come,” Russell added.
According to the report, more than one billion adolescent girls and women suffer from malnutrition (including underweight and short stature), deficiencies in essential micronutrients, and anemia, with devastating consequences for their lives and well-being.
This can have dangerous and irreversible consequences for their children’s survival, growth, learning and future. Globally, 51 million children under the age of 2 suffer from stunting, meaning they are too short for their age due to malnutrition.
Unicef called for legally binding measures to “expand large-scale food fortification of routinely consumed foods such as flour, cooking oil and salt” to help reduce micronutrient deficiencies and anemia in girls. and women.