More hungry children now than at any point this decade

The number of hungry children has risen for the first time this decade, warns Save the Children as the Government prepares for a crucial international summit on hunger to be held in London during the Olympics.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 - 5:54pm

Embargoed 19th July 2012 BST 00: 01

More hungry children now than at any point this decade – Save the Children

The number of hungry children has risen for the first time this decade, warns Save the Children as the Government prepares for a crucial international summit on hunger to be held in London during the Olympics.  

The charity says that a significant rise in acutely malnourished children threatens impressive progress in cutting child mortality and getting more children into school.

The findings come amid a back drop of rising food and fuel prices, which is making it much harder for families to afford to feed their children properly.

The charity's Chief Executive, Justin Forsyth, is in Mali, which has been been fractured by civil war and is currently also one of the hungriest countries in the world. 

“Our global Child Development Report shows that hunger has become the most urgent threat to children worldwide and threatens to drag back progress in saving and improving their lives. 

“Hunger has become the Achilles’ heel and unless we tackle it now, it threatens to undermine the overall progress made in cutting child deaths.”

The Save the Children report includes an index of best and worst places to be a child, measuring the number of children in school, under five mortality rates and number of underweight children.

Somalia comes out worst in the survey, reflecting last year’s deadly food crisis which killed tens of thousands of children and left hundreds of thousands displaced. West Bank and Gaza fell nearly 50 places in part as a result of the blockade whilst Japan is the best place to be a child in the world.

The index showed some significant achievements:

  • Conditions for children have improved in 90 per cent of countries since the second half of the 1990s
  • A child is a third more likely to go to school than the mid 90s
  • A child is a third less likely to die before their fifth birthday now than during the mid 90s

However in stark contrast, it shows nutrition is seriously lagging behind and that:

  • Nutrition showed the least progress of any component of the Child Development Report
  • The proportion of acutely malnourished children grew by 1.2 per cent during the 2000s  
  • East Asia had the biggest percentage growth in acute hunger   -  17 per cent   (although the absolute numbers are comparatively low) 

Save the Children is urging the Prime Minister to use the Olympic hunger summit to scale up efforts to tackle the problem and to announce that addressing the hunger crisis will be the theme of next year’s G8 in London. 

Forsyth continued: “Progress is possible with the right political will.  We urge the Prime Minister to build on his development leadership and use the summit to fire a starting gun for the race to end world hunger, announcing it as the theme of his presidency of next year’s G8. “

Save the Children wants David Cameron to:

  • Use the UK's G8 presidency to keep hunger on the top of their agenda throughout 2013
  • Tackle immediate hunger needs across Africa where 28 million people are suffering
  • Set national and international targets to dramatically bring down the number of chronically malnourished children helping to galvanise political action against hunger.
  • Fix a broken humanitarian system where slow release of funds wastes money and costs lives

Ends

To read the report pls visit: http://bit.ly/NzemPG

For interviews, video and stills, case studies and more information, contact Save the Children’s media unit on +44 (0) 207 012 6841, or out of hours on +44 (0) 7831 650 409.

To donate to Save the Children's West Africa appeal or for more information go to www.savethechildren.org.uk/westafrica or call +44 20 7012 6400

Notes to editors:

  • The CDI uses statistics from the World Bank, UN and national sources, and calculates periodic averages for 1995-99, 2000-04 and 2005-10
  • Slow progress  in reducing the number of underweight children since 2000  is at odds with the other indicators, prompted the charity to look closer at further figures on wasting (weight for height) and stunting (height for age) thus highlighting that wasting or  acute malnutrition actually increased , from the first half of the 2000s to the second.  
  • The rise occurred in the 2nd half of the decade and there are more hungry children than during the first reporting period starting in 2000. There is as yet insufficient accurate data available for 2011-12 
  • When we refer to acute malnutrition we mean low weight for height
  • The UK is 9th best place to be a child