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In 2017, famine and near-famine conditions were reported in four countries: South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and parts of northeastern Nigeria. About 20 million people in these countries were at risk of starvation. A further 10 million people could join them in 2018. Famine as a technical term means that specific criteria have been met. One of these is that at least 30 percent of young children are acutely malnourished. Famine conditions were present in parts of Unity State, South Sudan, from February through June 2017. In February 2018, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that famine was once again imminent in South Sudan. But even before a famine is declared, conditions are deadly. The only other famine this century, in Somalia, was declared in July 2011—but half of the 260,000 deaths took place before then.
The crisis in South Sudan is due to conflict. War has destroyed crops, health centers, and other necessities of life; trapped people in areas with no food; and caused the near-collapse of the economy. Women and children are most vulnerable to the effects of food insecurity, malnutrition, and conflict. Children who survive malnutrition before age 2 face irreversible lifelong damage to their health and their physical and cognitive development. Even short bouts of hunger and malnutrition carry long-term consequences. The latest estimates are that more than 1 million children younger than 5 are acutely malnourished, including more than 273,600 suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), which is fatal if not treated. More than 4 million people—approximately one-third of the entire population—have fled their homes. The conflict has affected nearly everyone and exacerbated deep economic and social problems in a country whose human development indicators (e.g., life expectancy) were already among the weakest in the world. Resolving the crisis in South Sudan requires saving as many lives as possible, ending the senseless conflict that has led to famine, and shifting the orientation of the global humanitarian and development community from "delivering aid" to "ending need."
Afghanistan would be considered likely to have high rates of hunger because at least two of the major causes of global hunger affect it—armed conflict and fragile governmental institutions.
Malnutrition is responsible for nearly half of all preventable deaths among children under 5. Every year, the world loses hundreds of thousands of young children and babies to hunger-related causes.
Bread for the World is calling on the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to build a better 1,000-Days infrastructure in the United States.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to respond to changes in need, making it well suited to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bread for the World and its partners are asking Congress to provide $200 million for global nutrition.
In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.