Children in Angola suffering from malnutrition amid drought

World Vision staff members in Angola warn that ongoing drought in this part of Africa is leading to dangerous food shortages that threaten the lives of children under the age of 5.

By Lawrence Mtimaunenenji, World Vision Southern Africa
Published November 14, 2012 at 12:00am PST

Medical personnel in drought-stricken Angola are urgently calling for food and medical supplies to stop the deteriorating situation among malnourished children.

Dr. Almeida Chitungo, director at a hospital in Huambo province, has sounded an alarm on the conditions of children under the age of 5.

A visit to the hospital by World Vision staff revealed desperate circumstances. Food reserves like milk and nutritious supplements are running low due to an increasing number of malnourished children.

“[The] government is trying hard to replenish food stuffs, but it is being overwhelmed by the demand of supplementary food to almost all hospitals in provinces hit by the drought,” says Chitungo.

“We need partners to urgently come to our rescue with supplies of supplementary food, like milk and flour. Otherwise, children’s lives are at stake here,” he adds.

Long-term interventions needed

Meanwhile, Julia Campos, a World Vision nutritionist based in Huambo, says malnutrition is spreading across the province, especially in rural areas, and the lives of thousands of children are in danger.

“It is a worrisome situation to see this level of human suffering,” she says. “We are seeing high levels of malnutrition among children, which will obviously lead to a high mortality rate.”

Campos adds that both immediate interventions and long-term solutions are needed.

“We urgently need medical supplies, supplementary nutritious food, and milk for the critically malnourished children as a short-term measure,” she says.

“For the longer term, we need medicines [and] funds for training the communities on food production, processing, and utilization, so that this situation does not recur again.”

Response focused on agricultural support

World Vision is working in areas hit hard by the drought in Angola. Our team has developed a $1.8 million drought recovery project aimed at increasing the resilience of farming systems.

Jonathan White, World Vision’s operations director in Angola, says the project’s focus is to improve farmer productivity, provide agricultural support, and establish a system for the supply of seeds of improved crop varieties.

“We are targeting 40,000 food-insecure families seriously affected by the drought, 100 farmer organizations, and 10 agricultural-input suppliers and seed enterprises,” explains White. “What we need is funding for the project to roll out.”

A dangerous situation

Global risk consultant Maplecroft last year ranked Angola as fifth in the world for unstable food supplies, placing it among troubled nations like Somalia.

The drought is making life even more difficult for Angola’s poor, as production of staple crops like cereals, beans, and sweet potatoes has dwindled. The most affected are small farmers, who depend on rain for their crops to survive.

The impact of the drought on food security is evident in malnutrition levels, putting immense pressure on local medical facilities.

According to a joint assessment report between the Angolan government and United Nations, thousands of children are suffering from varying levels of malnutrition, and an estimated 366,780 households — approximately 1.8 million people — are affected by the protracted dry spell.

Learn more

Read a story about a mother and child affected by the drought and food shortages in Angola.

Three ways you can help

Please pray for children, families, and communities affected by the ongoing drought and food shortages in Angola. Pray for the return of rains and healthy harvests in this region and other parched areas of Africa.

Make a one-time donation to help provide life-saving food and care to hungry children and families. Your gift will help World Vision deliver critical interventions to places where the need is great — like emergency food aid, agricultural support, nutritional training, clean water, medical care, and more.

Give monthly to provide assistance for children affected by hunger. Your monthly donation will help us deliver ongoing support to regions where hunger and malnutrition threaten lives, like Angola.