Hunger

Helping malnourished children survive

In 2017, our health and nutrition programmes reached 10.6 million children.

Across the world, we’re helping malnourished children survive and thrive.

There’s enough food in the world for everyone. But poor breastfeeding practices, lack of support to women, poverty and rising food prices mean that many families simply can’t afford it. At the same time, climate change threatens to increase the frequency of droughts and food crises.

Relentless hunger weakens children’s immune systems and leaves them vulnerable to infection, disease and death. And for those who survive, malnutrition is a life sentence.

Nealy a quarter of children in the world today suffer permanent damage to their bodies and minds because they don’t get the nutritious food they need, often due to lack of breastfeeding practices.

We’re committed to ending child deaths from hunger. On the ground, our teams are providing skilled counselling, support on breastfeeding and complementary feeding, screening children for malnutrition, distributing vitamin supplements and helping families improve their income. And we’re pioneering new methods of predicting food crises so governments can take action sooner.

 

Lolima's story

Lolima, 8 months old, at the Save the Children stabilisation centre in Kapoeta North.

Lolima, 8 months old, at the Save the Children stabilisation centre in Kapoeta North.

At just eight months old, Lolima is already malnourished. He lives in South Sudan, where more than two million children face food insecurity.

His mum, Luchia, says: “At this time of year there is no food. We struggle to get food for our children.”

When they arrived at our clinic, Lolima and his twin brother Lokor were both suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting. 

Our teams assessed them and prescribed medicine and nutritional milk. The twins quickly began to improve.

How big is the problem?

  • 45% of child deaths are linked to malnutrition. Children who are malnourished are less able to fight off illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
  • 823,000 under five children deaths could be prevented by improving breastfeeding practices across the countries we are working in
  • In 2030, 129 million children will suffer permanent damage to their bodies and minds as a result of hunger – a condition known as stunting.

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What we're doing to help children

We're working to end hunger around the world. Here are some of the things we're doing.

Northern Nigeria: In partnership with DFID, we’re giving out small grants and dietary advice to help 60,000 pregnant women and mothers get the nutritious food they and their children need in their first 1000 days. We are helping mothers with infants and young children continue breastfeeding and provide the appropriate diet for their children. We’re also supplying vitamin and iron supplements and helping health services offer nutrition advice, with the aim of reaching 6 million children.

NigerFocusing on a child’s first 1,000 days, we’re tackling malnutrition in pregnant women and children under two, focusing on breastfeeding and complementary feeding support. As well as providing extra food during the hungry season, we’re teaching people improved farming techniques and empowering women and girls to earn and save. 

West AfricaWe’re pioneering a new system to improve how governments predict and respond to food crises. We’ve trained almost 400 people to identify the most vulnerable populations using data on typical families’ income, spending and food sources.

South Sudan: Amidst bitter conflict in South Sudan, we’re using community-based approaches to prevent malnutrition, while at the same time, the community help identify and treat malnutrition. As well as inpatient centres for severely malnourished children, we run outpatient feeding programmes to help children stay healthy.

YemenWith a food crisis threatening millions of children in Yemen, our emergency teams are distributing food and cash grants to families. A major effort is to create safe spaces and provide support for mother s to breastfeed and improve the diet of their young children. The teams are also treating children for malnutrition.

 

Related reports

  • Don't Push It: Why the formula milk industry must clean up its act.
  • Unequal Portions: The world is way off track in eradicating malnutrition. What needs to change to ensure good nutrition for every last child?
  • Malnutrition in Bangladesh: Harnessing the power of social protection to improve nutrition among Bangladesh's poorest children.

 

Find out more