"We must do everything we can to end this vicious cycle. Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace." — António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
The COVID-19 pandemic is a leading cause of a surge in child malnutrition across the globe. It is estimated that COVID-19 has contributed to an additional 10,000 child deaths during the first 12 months of the pandemic. That is unacceptable. We must speak up for these children and reverse this deadly trend.
One of the most significant humanitarian emergencies of our generation is severe food insecurity and malnutrition. World Vision is deeply concerned about the shocking increase of people affected by this in the past year – driven by a deadly mix of conflict, climate change and the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.
- The estimated increase of moderate or severe food insecurity in 2020 was equal to that of the past five years combined. One in three people around the world did not have access to enough food last year.
- The World Food Program estimates that the number of people on the brink of famine is now 41 million people, up from 34 million last year.
- U.N. agencies are warning that Afghanistan could be facing food shortages in the next month without urgent aid funding.
- Food insecurity is a leading cause of wasting in children, and malnutrition is the main underlying cause of 45% of all preventable deaths of children under five. Young children with wasting are also eleven times more likely to die from preventable diseases than well-nourished children.
A few overarching themes in the hunger crisis have become increasingly clear: conflict, COVID-19, and climate have conspired to create a deadly situation for children. Violence plays a massive role in access to food and increasing malnutrition. According to the The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report, more than half of the people who are undernourished live in countries experiencing violent conflict. Additionally, of the 155 million people around the world experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity or worse, nearly 100 million live in environments where conflict was the main driver of the food crisis. Food insecurity and malnutrition have been critical issues for years, and we continue to see the devastating effects on vulnerable children and their families. While the pandemic affected almost every aspect of global food systems, its impact on local economies was most destructive. We also cannot ignore the ways that a changing climate has impacted access to food. A staggering 98% of low and middle income countries have been exposed to climate extremes from 2015-2020.
The U.S. government has committed to preventing wide-scale starvation and extreme malnutrition, but World Vision is specifically concerned about the increases in food insecurity and malnutrition driven by the impacts of COVID-19, climate change and conflict. We believe famine is preventable and that we can equip and empower families to improve their ability to grow and purchase food. We know that children and pregnant mothers need to consume a nutritious diet, particularly in the first 1,000 days of life. We have seen the effects of malnutrition and are working to reach millions through our programs, including as the largest partner of the World Food Program. We ask the U.S. government to demonstrate leadership and make a commitment now to avert a looming hunger catastrophe.
We urge Congress to pass the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act of 2021. This bill supports efforts to prevent and treat malnutrition globally by targeting resources and nutrition interventions to support the most vulnerable populations. The bill commits the U.S. Government to support context-specific interventions designed to strengthen stretched policies and systems where hunger and malnutrition are taking the greatest toll. This includes increasing coverage of nutrition interventions, developing polices to prevent and treat malnutrition, strengthening health and nutrition systems, and ensuring vigorous monitoring of these efforts to ensure they are effective.
Recognizing that the United States has an important leadership role to play, this bill will coordinate efforts between donors, governments of partner countries, U.N. agencies, civil society organizations, nongovernmental organizations –– including faith-based organizations like World Vision –– and the private sector to prevent and treat malnutrition globally.
We need Congress to take swift action to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition in every form, and to ensure a healthier, safer world for children in the wake of a pandemic. World Vision believes that famine is preventable and that children deserve a healthy start to life. Stunting, wasting and famine have no place in the 21st century. With strong collective leadership, political will and the right financing, hunger could be a thing of the past.
This act has been introduced in the House and Senate, but still needs to be passed! Add your voice to help us get there, and check back here for updates.
House: H.R. 4693
Date Introduced: 6/17/2021
Number of Cosponsors: 26
Date Passed: --
Senate: S. 2956
Date Introduced: 10/7/2021
Number of Cosponsors: 3
Date Passed: --