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Number of malnourished children set to double in cyclone-hit parts of Mozambique

Save the Children, 25th April 2019

MAPUTO – The number of acutely malnourished children aged under five in cyclone-hit areas in Mozambique is expected to increase twofold, as time runs out to replant crops destroyed by the storm, Save the Children warns.

Thousands of children in the disaster-struck areas were pushed close to starvation when Cyclone Idai made landfall on 14 March 2019. Now even more children are at risk of malnutrition as families struggle to replace their lost crops before the next harvest.

Cyclone Idai destroyed 715,300 hectares of crops just before the harvest – about 13 percent of the farmland in Mozambique, an area the equivalent of almost one million football fields.

Getinet Babu, nutrition advisor for Save the Children in Mozambique, said:

“In the areas already hit by cyclone Idai, time to replant crops is running out by the day. Hundreds of thousands of families will be left without an income until the next harvest, and their children without enough to eat.”

George Graham, Director of Conflict and Humanitarian Policy at Save the Children, said:

“UK aid is saving lives and providing much needed food, water and shelter to children and families affected by the cyclone. But more funding from global partners is desperately needed to sustain food distributions, which need to include extra nutritious rations for malnourished children, to prevent a slide into acute malnutrition.”

Joice, 19, had a small farm which was devastated by the cyclone. Without seeds to grow new crops, her 19-month-old son Johan has been diagnosed with severe malnutrition.

Joice said: “The cyclone took all our food, two houses and our clothes. It took our chickens – and all the animals we had. We were growing rice, vegetables and sweet potatoes, but everything is gone.”

To meet the immediate needs of the affected families, Save the Children is distributing food in some of the hardest hit areas. The organisation is also distributing seeds and tools so families can replace their lost crops and rebuild their lives, and providing malnourished children with life-saving high-energy peanut paste and referring them on for further care.



  • The Nutrition Cluster in Mozambique, a consortia of specialist nutrition agencies including Save the Children, UNICEF, and Action Against Hunger, estimate that the number of children who are acutely malnourished following the disaster is expected to rise to 114,750, an increase of 55,000 from the initial 59,649. The increase is expected due to loss of crops, income and food stores and a poor diet.
  • According to the World Health Organisation, children with severe acute malnutrition suffer from low body weight for their height and visible wasting. Severe acute malnutrition is a life-threatening condition.  

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