A devastating famine is sweeping across parts of East Africa leaving millions of children facing hunger. The grave and combined effects of climate change, Covid-19, conflict in the region and the war in Ukraine is bringing those who are most vulnerable to the brink of a famine.
This is an emergency – millions of children are on the edge of life changing illness and starvation.
In Kenya alone, over 9 million people are facing dire food shortages and over half a million children now need treatment for malnutrition. Prolonged malnutrition leads to developmental disorders and delays and long-term health problems which weaken the immune system leaving children vulnerable to malaria, acute diarrhea, and pneumonia. Many more children are on the streets searching for food and that’s where the Drop-In Centre in Mombasa, run by our fantastic partner Glad’s House Kenya, can make a huge difference. Every day of the year children dependent on the streets can go to the Drop-In Centre and have a hot nutritious meal. This essential service not only gives children the sustenance they need but also gives them the crucial safety away from the dangers they face on the streets. However, the current crisis is pushing more children to the street and the demand for food and support has never been higher.
Where we work in Rwanda, 95% of families are now surviving on just one meal a day. We are seeing children starting to drop out of school in order to support their parents’ search for food. No parent should have to decide between food or education for their child, but this is reality for a growing number of people.
Felicien, our Disability and Inclusion Advisor supports over 4,000 families in Rwanda and is seeing the devastating impact firsthand:
‘The current food crisis is putting children with disabilities in extreme danger. Many of them were already affected by chronic malnutrition but current food shortage is exacerbating ongoing health conditions.’
Many families in the region rely on farming as their sole source of income. Because of cataclysmic changes in weather, including the longest drought in 40 years followed by very heavy rains, crops have been destroyed.
‘The situation has been building for over a year now but worsened in the past 4 months due to an extreme rise in food prices and other commodities. This was further aggravated by climate change which has caused droughts across the districts we work in. The situation is so bad that farmers have nothing to harvest this year as all the crops they planted have dried out’.
Your support can change this. In Rwanda we run Parent Support Groups to help change mindsets and understanding of disability. Parents are trained in the importance of nutrition, feeding techniques, play and exercise for their children and our Pig Farming Project provides the means to pay for medical insurance and bills to ensure that children experiencing disability can thrive.
In Uganda our Programme Manager, Miriam, has told us how the crisis is causing girls to become sold as brides:
‘For many poor families in Uganda, marrying their daughters at an early age essentially is a strategy for economic survival, it means one less person to feed, clothe and educate. Because of long consequences of famine and poverty, parents marry off their daughters at an early age to get bride prices for family survival.’
We exist to ensure that children thrive, not just survive. Our amazing partners are working tirelessly to support children so they don’t have to fight to have the childhood they deserve. However, children are bearing the brunt of food shortages through no fault of their own. No child should miss out on school and a future because they are hungry.
We know that many people are struggling this winter. When there is so much happening at home, it can be hard to think of other countries. But all children deserve a safe and happy childhood, regardless of where they are born.
We hope that you will join us in fighting for every child this Christmas by making a donation to our Big Give Christmas challenge. From 29th November to 6th December every donation is doubled – that means that you can have double the impact! A donation of £50 will be doubled to £100 which could help to provide a weeks’ worth of food for the children at the Drop In Centre in Mombasa.
Your support this Christmas will help to provide hope of a brighter future for every child.