One million people, including more than 150,000 children under the age of five, are facing food shortages in storm-affected areas in Mozambique, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). The situation is a result of the devastation brought by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which struck central and northern Mozambique in March and April. The two storms, Unicef said, brought widespread flooding, the destruction of almost 780,000 hectares (7,800 sq kms) of agriculture crops and the displacement of tens of thousands of families.
“The number of children under five facing ‘crisis’ levels of food insecurity is expected to rise to 200,000 in storm-affected areas by February 2020. Around 38,000 children could become severely malnourished and at risk of death over the same period,” said Marcoluigi Corsi, Unicef’s representative in Mozambique.
“The agricultural devastation brought by the two cyclones has made what were already high levels of child malnutrition even worse,” Corsi said in a statement.
Many children in disaster-affected areas do not have access to the nutritious food they need for their development.
“Six months on, the prospect of further suffering is very real as we head into the lean season. More resources are urgently needed to support ongoing humanitarian efforts.” Even before the cyclones hit Mozambique, 43% of children in the country were chronically malnourished or stunted, Corsi said. As one of the poorest countries in the world, multi-dimensional poverty means many children face conditions that inhibit normal physical and cognitive development.”
Corsi said Unicef and its partners were working to reach children and families still reeling from the cyclones. The impact of two cyclones hitting Mozambique in one season was devastating and unprecedented, however, it is only now that the residual effects of the disaster are really beginning to be felt,” said James McQuen-Patterson, Unicef’s chief of health and nutrition in Mozambique.
“Reaching malnourished children in greatest need is complex. We will only succeed with a co-ordinated response across partners to ensure cyclone-affected families do not fall into further distress,” he added. To implement its programmes for women and children, Unicef Mozambique requires $102.6m through until May 2020. So far, just US $34.1m has been received. This leaves a funding gap of $68.5m or 67 %, McQuen-Patterson said.
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