Global charity organization, Save the Children Thursday warned that millions of children in the greater Horn of African region could face severe malnutrition due to desert locusts, floods and COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the charity said a looming second invasion by desert locusts combined with floods that have destroyed crops, and COVID-19 pandemic might disrupt efforts to feed vulnerable children in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
According to Yvonne Arunga, Save the Children’s Regional Operations Director for East and Southern Africa, this year will be a defining year for a generation of children across the Horn of Africa.
COVID-19 comes at a time when children and their families are already dealing with multiple crises that include recurrent climatic shocks, conflict and the locust invasion, she said.
Roughly 5 million children below five years are already severely malnourished in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia while about 1.3 million are at risk of starvation.
Save the Children said the region will experience a substantial increase in emergency needs for children in the coming months.
Commodity prices have risen by 2% in Somalia while decreased revenue from remittances and tourism across the entire Horn of African region due to COVID-19 pandemic is likely to worsen childhood malnutrition.
It noted that government-financed desert locust control interventions across the Horn of African region that include personnel training and spraying of pesticides, have been affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
It called for partnership between governments and humanitarian agencies to promote child-centered nutrition programs like breastfeeding in the region.