Zimbabwe + 4 more

Warning of 579,000 severely malnourished children the latest wake-up call on southern Africa

Pretoria / Geneva, 17 August 2016: A new report revealing that 579,000 children across southern Africa will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition in 2016 is the latest wake-up call for the world to work together to prevent this crisis from destroying the lives and future of a generation.

According to UN OCHA’s most recent global overview on the impact of El Niño, an estimated 40 million people across southern Africa are currently affected by the El-Niño-induced drought, including 23 million who require urgent humanitarian assistance.

Ms Lorraine Mangwiro, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) head of the southern Africa country cluster, said the impact of chronic hunger and severe acute malnutrition in the region is destroying lives and livelihoods today, and threatening social and economic development in the future.

“We know that when families cannot feed themselves, they become desperate. Children stop attending school to find work in exchange for food, or they are simply too hungry to go,” said Ms Mangwiro.

As well as the horrifying effects of hunger on children, acute malnutrition can cause lasting, intergenerational damage through reduced school attendance, and reduced access to essential healthcare and medical treatments.

Basic malnutrition treatments for children and supporting broader health, food, sanitation and livelihood programmes are urgently needed now - and to build community resilience for droughts in the future.

IFRC is supporting National Red Cross Societies across southern Africa to respond to the crisis through emergency appeals launched in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Totalling more than 12.1 million Swiss francs, the appeals are providing immediate life-saving support to more than 94,000 people. The appeals are, on average, just 31 per cent funded.

“We are focusing our response to this slow onset emergency on those who are most in need – particularly children,” said Ms Mangwiro. “Children are the future leaders, workers and parents of this region. If we act now, they can still have a healthy and productive future.”

For further information, please contact:

In Pretoria:
•Lorraine Mangwiro, Head of country cluster, southern Africa
Mobile: +27 82 926 4480, E-mail: lorraine.mangwiro@ifrc.org
•Erin Law, Health delegate, southern Africa
Mobile: +27 82 926 4470, E-mail: erin.law@ifrc.org

In Nairobi:
•Katherine Mueller, Communications manager, IFRC Africa
Mobile +254 731 688 613 E-mail: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org

In Geneva:
•Reeni Amin Chua, Communications senior officer
Mobile : +41 79 708 62 73, E-mail: reeni.aminchua@ifrc.org

For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org/africa. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.