A recent study by Save the Children, an international organization that works to protect children’s rights, has revealed that approximately 17 million children are projected to be born into conditions of hunger by the end of 2023.
This is equivalent to approximately 33 children being born into hunger every minute, according to Save the Children, and represents a 22% increase from the figures documented ten years ago.
This was disclosed by the group in a press statement obtained by our correspondent on Monday.
Save the Children stated in the press release that roughly one-fifth more newborns would be exposed to hunger in 2023 than in 2013, when 14.4 million children were born into hunger. The organization further noted that its data was derived from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN’s (FAO) undernourishment prevalence and UN estimates on birth rates.
The child rights organization pointed to economic instability, conflicts, and repeated climate shocks as factors that have led to the devastating hunger crisis affecting every part of the world.
Africa and Asia are reported to account for 95% of the global undernourished births in 2023, with the analysis noting that the data does not include the impact of the escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory on hunger or birth rates in the region.
‘More than 17 million newborns will this year enter a world where hunger will eat away at their childhood. Hunger will destroy their dreams, silence their play, disrupt their education, and threaten their lives,” said Vishna Shah-Little, Regional Director for Advocacy, Campaigns, Communications and Media for Save the Children in West and Central Africa.’
‘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,’ Save the Children statement partly read.
The group, at the global food security summit in the UK on Monday, addressed the root causes of acute food and nutrition insecurity, adding that ‘only by putting an end to global conflict, tackling the climate crisis and global inequality, and building more resilient health, nutrition, and social protection systems that are less vulnerable to shocks like COVID-19, conflicts, and the climate crisis will we be able to ensure the same warnings are not ringing out again in the coming years.’
Additionally, the child rights organization underscored the need for enhanced collaboration, dialogue, and investment across sectors, along with leadership from local communities, to strengthen response planning and implementation, and to enhance our capacity to take early action and prevent anticipated shocks from evolving into crises.
‘Save the Children is also calling on world leaders to scale up low-cost interventions to prevent and treat malnutrition: community-based treatment for acute malnutrition, supporting and protecting breastfeeding, and investing in the community and primary-level healthcare,’ the organisation added.
The organization further stated that in countries where at least 25% of the population is experiencing chronic hunger, the Democratic Republic of Congo is projected to have the highest number of newborns born undernourished this year.
‘About 1.5 million newborns are projected to be born into the grips of hunger in the DRC – the highest number recorded for the country since FAO records began in 2001. Projections indicate that in 2023, an estimated 6.6 million children under the age of five will be undernourished in the DRC.’
In North Kivu, DRC, Sifa, a 33-year-old mother of five, is finding it challenging to feed her children, including her youngest, born just three months ago, while living in a displacement camp. Having lost three previous children to malaria, cholera, and armed groups, she now fears the possibility of losing another child, this time to hunger.
‘I live in constant fear that I will lose another child. I keep thinking: ‘Will I ever see my children grow and will ever have enough food for them?’ I’m scared of waking up every day to find my baby gone,’ Sifa said.
‘Since giving birth three months ago, I have been struggling to feed my infant. I know I should eat more, but what little we have I give to my nine-year-old daughter. She already begs for food every day and sleeps hungry, so I try to give her something.’
‘I know it’s dangerous sending her out there, but we have no other option, she needs to eat,’ she said.