700,000 children could die from malnutrition in Sahel

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A nurse measures the arm of a severely malnourished child at a clinic in North Darfur. UN File Photo/Albert González Farran

Malnutrition could kill up to 700,000 children each year in Africa's Sahel region, the UN humanitarian coordinator there has stated.

Toby Lanzer said structural issues such as poor governance coupled with the impact of climate change are behind what he described as this "terrible situation."

Mr Lanzer took up his post in July and has spent his first 100 days travelling to nine countries in the Sahel, which covers parts of West and Central Africa.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr Lanzer said the Sahel is experiencing what he called "a remarkable convergence of issues," including climate change, abject poverty and violence by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Furthermore, food insecurity there is affecting 25 million people, including up to 700,000 children who will die each year due to malnutrition.

The UN official said this "terrible situation" is due to underlying structural issues such as poor governance, poverty, and the inequitable distribution of wealth

"It is much more those reasons than a conflict or natural disaster, per se. However,  the issue of climate change is particularly pertinent for the Sahel, and here you have some of the poorest countries of the world. And with all due respect to my own country and my own continent, we need to be doing much more to help countries who have affected by carbon emissions, climate change and the like."

The Sahel's population will rise by 150 million by 2045, according to Mr Lanzer.

He said this is reason enough not to let the region become "ever poorer, more marginalized" and "more affected by climate change."

Duration: 1’18″

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