Nigeria, 19 Others Account For 65% Children Facing Food Poverty – UNICEF

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A United Nations Children’s Fund flagship child nutrition report has shown that 65 per cent of children facing food poverty in the world are from Nigeria and 19 other countries.

The 19 other countries listed in the report include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.

The report showed that globally, one in four children (27 per cent) are living in severe child food poverty in early childhood, amounting to 181 million children under five years of age.

UNICEF defined child food poverty as children’s inability to access and consume a nutritious and diverse diet in early childhood.

The report examined the status, trends, inequities, and drivers of child food poverty in early childhood.

The UN body said child food poverty harms all children, but it is particularly damaging in early childhood when insufficient dietary intake of essential nutrients can cause the greatest harm to child survival, physical growth, and cognitive development, trapping children and their families in a cycle of poverty and deprivation.

The global body said severe child food poverty affects all regions of the world, but not equally.

It, however, noted that globally, progress toward ending severe child food poverty is slow, but some regions and countries are proving that progress is possible and is happening.

It also found that the global food and nutrition crisis, localised conflicts, and climatic shocks are intensifying severe child food poverty, especially in fragile and humanitarian settings.

The report highlighted the severe child food poverty level in Nigeria at 32 per cent.

“Across the world, millions of parents and families are struggling to provide nutritious and diverse foods that young children need to reach their full potential.

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“Growing inequities, conflict, and climate crises, combined with rising food prices, the overabundance of unhealthy foods, harmful food marketing strategies, and poor child feeding practices, are condemning millions of children to child food poverty,” UNICEF report noted.

The report also found that children living in severe child food poverty are missing out on many nutrient-rich foods, while unhealthy foods are becoming entrenched in the diets of these children.

It further said severe child food poverty is driving child undernutrition.

To address child malnutrition, the UN organisation urged governments and partners to invest in actions to improve children’s access to diverse and nutritious diets and end severe child food poverty.

“Elevate child food poverty reduction as a requirement for achieving global and national nutrition and development goals and a metric of success in meeting children’s right to food and nutrition; and commit resources to end child food poverty,” it advised.

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