11m children face famine, disease in Africa due to El Nino

El Nino threatens nearly 11 million children in Africa with famine, hunger and disease, according to UNICEF

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Children flock with containers to a field demarcated for food-drops, February 24, 2015.

Updated Nov 11, 2015

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported on Tuesday that almost 11 million children who live in the eastern and southern Africa face hunger, disease and water shortages because of the El Nino, a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean which has a global effect on weather conditions.

Food and water shortages led by drought and floods are causing poor nutrition which increases children's health problems such as diarrhoea, malaria, cholera and dengue fever, UNICEF has announced.

"The consequences could ripple through generations unless affected communities receive support," UNICEF said in a statement.

The report shows stunted children suffer from poor cognitive development and other conditions.

El Nino, caused by Pacific Ocean warming, has led to drought in several parts of Africa, including Malawi and Zimbabwe.

However, the worst affected country is Ethiopia, which has the second highest population in Africa.

At least eight million Ethiopians are in need of food aid, and the number is likely increase to 15 million by the beginning of 2016, the UN stated.

Moreover, some 350,000 children in the country are facing the threat of undernourishment, UNICEF said. That means they are facing death as a result of poor nutrition.

More than 3 million people need to be supported against the impacts of El Nino in Somalia. Severe flooding is expected to occur near the Shebelle and Juba rivers.

The Kenyan government has predicted that at least 2.5 million children could be affected by landslides, floods and disease connected to the El Nino rains.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a statement "Children and their communities need our help to recover from the impact of El Niño and to prepare for the further damage it could unleash."

 "Its intensity and potential destructiveness should be a wake-up call as world leaders gather in Paris. As they [world leaders] debate an agreement on limiting global warming, they should recall that the future of today's children and of the planet they will inherit is at stake," Anthony Lake added.

World leaders will meet in Paris for the 21st United Nations Climate Conference, held between November 30 and December 11. 

TRTWorld and agencies