By Awan Achiek
At least 1.34 million children under-five years of age are increasingly at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition in South Sudan this year, due to food insecurity and lack of access to water and hygiene services.
A new report by the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) released in Juba on Saturday, says that children particularly in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, and Western Bahr el Ghazal states will be the most affected.
“As the access to those in need improves due to the peace process, we have been making significant progress in treating severe malnutrition in children, but floods and other climate-related shocks leave more children vulnerable,” said Jesper Moller, Acting UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.
Moller adds that UNICEF and partners are finding it difficult to extend relief supplies to the affected children and families due to funding shortfall.
She says that the major factors contributing to acute malnutrition are high prevalence diseases such diarrhea among under-five children.
Adding that lack of dietary diversity, and infrequent meals are other factors contributing acute malnutrition.
“More than 90 percent of children under -five put into therapeutic feeding programs fully recover, and yet funding for this life-saving response is increasingly a challenge,” says Moller.
In late March, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) warned that an estimated 8.3 million people, including refugees, are expected to experience severe food insecurity by the peak of the lean season from May to July.
It also disclosed that 1.7 billion U.S. dollars is need this year, to address the humanitarian needs of 6.8 million most vulnerable South Sudanese.
The most food insecure populations are in Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap, and Eastern Equatoria states.