Inside our work with children facing starvation


Imagine being a mother or father watching your child grow weak before your eyes.

This is the reality for millions of parents around the world whose children suffer from acute malnutrition. More than just hunger, acute malnutrition is a life-threatening condition that can impair development, increase the risk of infection and disease, and rob children of the opportunity to live healthy, full lives.

Acute malnutrition affects around 50 million children each year and roughly 80 percent of them don’t have access to treatment. These dire statistics will only worsen as violence and famine overtake countries in need.

IRC staff know that steadfast and compassionate support can prevent the loss of young lives—and give families hope for the future. Go with us inside Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, three countries where courageous families and dedicated health workers with the International Rescue Committee work together every day to combat malnutrition.


Somalia is facing a severe drought that threatens to exceed the one that brought the country to the brink of famine in 2017. By the end of this year, almost one million children could suffer from malnourishment and 175,000 from severe malnourishment. Without external support, their chances of survival are slim. Additionally, 1.7 million people face acute food insecurity, or the inability to access necessary food, more than double the number in 2017.

How the IRC is responding

The IRC is operational in Puntland and central Somalia, the main areas of concern, and we are scaling up our programming significantly. We support families with health care, emergency cash assistance, rehabilitation of water sources, and mobile health services to reach deeper into hard-hit areas.

“My life was good, but when drought and famine ravaged the land, people had to flee. There is no clean water to drink—people dig into dried river beds hoping to get some water. I am a farmer. There have been no rains, it’s absolutely dry…. It’s impossible to work now since there is severe famine.”  —Aisho Abukar Ali, a farmer and mother who fled her home because of drought. Her twin daughters were both treated for malnutrition by the IRC.




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