Save the Children, in a report released ahead of World Children’s Day, reveals a distressing reality—approximately 17.6 million children will be born into hunger this year, equivalent to 33 children every minute. This marks a 22% increase from a decade ago, when 14.4 million children faced the harsh grip of hunger at birth.
Economic instability, conflicts, and recurring climate shocks have contributed to this devastating rise impacting every corner of the world. The analysis indicates that Africa and Asia will account for 95% of the undernourished births in 2023. Notably, the data does not include the impact of the escalated violence in the occupied Palestinian territory on hunger or the birth rate in the region.
Hannah Stephenson, Global Head of Health and Nutrition at Save the Children, emphasised the gravity of the situation: “More than 17 million newborns will this year enter a world where hunger will eat away at their childhood. That’s 33 children a minute—about the size of a classroom in the US or the UK. Hunger will destroy their dreams, silence their play, disrupt their education, and threaten their lives.”
Afghanistan is anticipated to face the highest number of children born into this crisis in Asia, among countries with significant levels of undernutrition. The report shares the heartbreaking story of Marium, a 10-month-old in Afghanistan, highlighting the struggles her family faces due to limited income, which prevents them from affording nutritious food.
While significant progress was made in the early 2000s to reduce global hunger, with 21.5 million children born into hunger in 2001, progress began declining in 2019 due to economic instability, conflicts, and the worsening climate crisis.
The report underscores that the global crisis requires a global solution. Hannah Stephenson concludes, “Hunger is not a lost cause. We have the power to significantly reduce the number of malnourished children right now, like we have in the past,” Hannah Stephenson continued. “However, if we do not tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, we will continue to see the reversal of progress made for children. This is a global hunger crisis, and it requires a global solution.”