World hunger is estimated to be on the rise again as conflict and human-induced disasters as well as natural disasters are contributing to setbacks in food security.This year’s The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFIN) warns that the long-term declining trend in undernourishment seems to have come to a halt and may have reversed. Meanwhile, though progress continues to be made in reducing child malnutrition, millions of children are still stunted and wasted, and rising overweight and obesity are a concern in most parts of the world. One of the best starts in life, exclusive breastfeeding, has increased in many countries, yet it remains below desired levels. For the first time, this year’s report is published by an expanded partnership, with UNICEF and WHO now joining FAO, IFAD and WFP.
From inadequate healthcare and nutrition to vulnerability to infectious diseases, children living in poor communities face inequities every day. But perhaps the most fundamental injustice is this: Children growing up in poverty are nearly twice as likely to die before reaching their fifth birthday as children living in better circumstances. An unconscionable majority of them die unnecessarily. With practical, low-cost and high-impact interventions like treated mosquito nets, immunizations, rehydration salts or breastfeeding, most of these deaths could be prevented. The new UNICEF report Narrowing the Gaps: The power of investing in the poorest children, reveals that investing in the health and survival of the most deprived children is not only right in principle, it is also cost-effective.
“Is every child counted” provides a status report on the data availability of child related SDG indicators showing that sufficient data is available only for half of those. Many indicators, such as those on poverty and violence cannot be compared, and are either too limited or of poor quality, leaving governments without the information they need to accurately address challenges facing millions of children, or to track progress towards achieving the Goals. The report also identifies priorities for enhancing the collection, analysis and use of data for children.