· Food assistance system straining under massive humanitarian need.
· Millions of children are being pushed into extreme hunger by one of the worst El Niños on record
· EU Member States should prioritise Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger and malnutrition in all its forms
BRUSSELS, 26 January 2016 –Today, World Vision, the largest partner of the World Food Programme called on the EU and its member states to prioritise both food assistance to children to mitigate the impact of El Niño and resilience programs to end hunger and malnutrition in all its forms.
Some 11 million children in Africa will face hunger as a result of the strongest El Nino in decades. World Vision is calling for rapid and effective action by the EU and its Member States to tackle this issue
At the launch of World Vision’s report “When there is no food assistance: Breaking our promise to the world’s most vulnerable children in the European Parliament today, representatives from the European Parliament (Heidi Hautala, hosting MEP), the European Commission (DG DEVCO and DG ECHO), the European External Action Service, the World Food Programme and aid agencies such as Care International, Oxfam and Save the Children will discuss what happens when the food assistance that people depend on does not arrive.
The Report states that 100 million of the world’s most vulnerable people require international food assistance every year, but that funding gaps are increasingly leaving the most desperate with little or nothing. World Vision reveals in the report that it was contracted to provide food assistance to 10.3 million people in 35 countries in the year to September 2014 but only received enough resources to help 8 million people - leaving some 2.3 million people without critical food and nutrition support. Almost 1.4 million of those affected were children.
The report focuses on families living in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Niger and Somalia who were promised help that didn’t arrive.
In Somalia and DRC children benefit from school meal programmes that ensure children don’t miss out on education. But children and teachers reported that when food was not available children’s studies suffered, they became unresponsive and were less likely to attend school. One Somali mother said: “Children don’t play when they don’t eat at school. They are always around the home, tired and hungry and I cannot provide enough food.”
Sheri Arnott, World Vision’s Director, Research, Policy & Strategy for Food Assistance, says: “Millions of the world’s most desperate children are already going without the food assistance that has been promised to them. I’m deeply worried that El Nino and increasing extreme climate events are going to push millions more people over the edge into extreme hunger or worse.”
World Vision’s report calls for a better response to humanitarian appeals linked to El Nino related crises. It also calls for governments and donors to urgently pledge funds to the $100 billion a year (by 2020) Green Climate Fund and to disperse the funds as quickly as possible to help countries impacted by climate change.
“There are ways to ensure no child goes to bed hungry,” says Justin Byworth, World Vision Brussels’ Executive Director “By protecting livelihoods and implementing sustainable, resilient and profitable agricultural livelihood strategies for smallholder farmers, the EU and its Member States could respond more effectively to food shortages in partner countries and prevent millions of children and their communities from experiencing hunger”.
• At last count 795 million people around the world, or one in nine, regularly don’t have enough nutritious food to eat each day. (FAO, WFP and IFAD (2015))
• Each year, poor nutrition is an underlying cause of 2.8 million (45%) deaths in children under 5, or one in six children in developing countries. Roughly 100 million children are underweight. Almost 100 million of the most vulnerable global citizens require food assistance from the international community each year to ensure they have something to eat during a difficult time in their lives. [WFP (2014)].
• WFP’s funding gap for its largest emergencies (Levels 3 and 2) was US$4.6 billion as of May 2015. [WFP, Operational Resourcing Update (May 2015).]
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. 45,000 staff work in close to 100 countries in most regions of the world including Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific Region.
World Vision Brussels’ office represents World Vision members in 12 European countries, including 10 EU member states, as well as the wider international World Vision partnership.
For more information please contact Ludovic Wahis, Policy and Communications Officer, World Vision Brussels & EU Representation, +32 (0) 2 274 18 67, Ludovic_Wahis@wvi.org
 A Wake-Up Call – El Nino’s Impact on Children, United Nations Children’s Fund, 3 November 2015