Thankfully, Zainab is one of 115,000 children under five who UNICEF helped treat for severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria last year. Ongoing violence means that this year, we need to treat twice as many children for this deadly disease.
Conflict has ravaged Nigeria’s food security, disrupting farming, wiping out crops and livestock, depleting stocks and destroying water and health facilities. Families are running out of options to keep their children safe and healthy.
In the worst hit Nigerian states, more than 400,000 children are at risk of death from severe acute malnutrition.
If the horrifying reality of this starvation could capture the attention of newspapers and social media users like the campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, we could make sure no child is left behind. You can help give this crisis the attention it needs by sharing this blog on Facebook or Twitter.
Famine struck South Sudan
Famine is not a word UNICEF takes lightly. It means families are facing extreme food shortages, one third of young children are acutely malnourished and people are starving to death. This dire situation was officially declared in Febuary 2017 South Sudan's Unity State - the first time famine struck anywhere in the world since 2011.
Thankfully, by June, famine had eased but children in the world’s youngest country are facing a hellish combination of violence, extreme weather and a collapsing economy.
Brutal fighting and a severe dry season have stopped many farmers from planting crops and forced others to abandon their harvests. With inflation as high as 800%, families are struggling to afford even basic staples and resorting to ‘wild foods’ like grass and seeds. Some parents have had to sell everything just to survive; they’ve fled home without warning and seen their villages burnt to the ground.
Food shortages are taking over the country: 290,000 children have severe acute malnutrition, the worst kind of the disease.
Mothers like Athill are being forced to make choices they’d never dreamt of. Her entire family relies on grass seeds for survival. The seeds have low nutritional value and many of her family, including the adults, are severely malnourished.
"I do try and get work in the local market to buy food but there just isn’t any work,” says her husband Adim. “I am afraid all the time that if we have no rain, there soon won’t be even the grass seed to feed the family and we will starve all over again. I can’t afford to send any of my children to school. My main priority is to try as best I can to feed my family.”