“Our lives should be better than this. If we could afford to eat, we would”
Hunoon* has six children, all under the age of 12 and over the last few months, going to sleep in the cold with an empty stomach has become the norm. When our teams met the family in November, they told us they would often have to go five or six days without food.
“There is no work to earn a living… with the bad economy plus no more loans, we can’t afford to eat…. if my husband doesn’t work for a day then we may pass out from the cold.”
The food crisis
Like millions of others in Afghanistan, Hunoon’s family are feeling the effects of the country’s worst ever food crisis. At the start of this year, the impacts of drought, COVID-19 and ongoing conflict meant millions of people were already facing critical levels of hunger. Since then, the economy has gone into freefall, food prices have skyrocketed, basic services across the country are on the brink of collapse, and nearly 700,000 people have been forced from their homes. Now, over 22 million people, including nearly 14 million children, have been pushed into crisis levels of hunger. For many, the situation has become life-threatening.
Hunoon’s youngest, Sara*, is just seven months old. As the youngest, she is also the most vulnerable in this hunger crisis. She has slipped into severe acute malnutrition.
Severe acute malnutrition is the most dangerous form of malnutrition. It impairs children’s physical and cognitive growth, compromises internal organs, and weakens immune systems, leaving children more susceptible to infections like pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases. If left untreated, it can result in death.
Although deadly, severe acute malnutrition is treatable.
Thankfully, Sara received the immediate treatment she needed from our medical teams. When Hunoon brought her to the health centre last month, she was immediately diagnosed and given a high-protein, calorific peanut paste to help her recover.
We know with the right treatment, at the right time, malnourished children can recover. Our mobile health teams are providing this critical care across Afghanistan right now. But with almost all children in Afghanistan currently not getting enough food to eat, the situation is at crisis point. 1 million children across the country share Sara’s story and are currently at risk of dying from severe malnutrition. At the same time, Afghanistan’s aid-dependent healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, meaning many severely malnourished children will not be able to access the specialist treatment they need to survive. Parents are being forced to take heart-breaking measures to feed their families. Last week, Save the Children spoke to one mother who was forced to give up one of her twins to feed the other.
Support our emergency appeal today
As a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee, Save the Children has joined forces with 14 leading aid charities to help children and families in Afghanistan cope through this hunger crisis. The situation is complex in Afghanistan, but it’s not too late to prevent disaster and to pull together to support children. By making a donation you can help make sure more children like Sara get the essential support they need at this critical time.