KABUL, April 24 (Xinhua) — Water scarcity emanated from lack of precipitation in late 2017 and early this year has affected the live of 500,000 children in Afghanistan, the UNICEF warned Tuesday.
The impact on the children could be devastating in 22 of the country’s 34 provinces, with 10 worst provinces across Afghanistan, where 20 percent to 30 percent water sources are reportedly dry, threatening the lives of 1 million people, said UNICEF, or the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, in a statement.
An additional 2 million people could feel its effects over the coming months, the statement said.
“These areas have pre-existing high rates of malnutrition. Without adequate nutritious food and safe water for drinking, as well as for hygiene and sanitation, children’s health will only worsen,” the statement reads.
The impact of the drought couldn’t come at a worse time, as cases of severe acute malnutrition, or seasonal malnutrition, rise on average by about 25 percent each year in the coming summer months.
Some 1.6 million children and 443,000 pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition across Afghanistan, according to the statement.
“The priority is to prevent the situation from deteriorating, by responding to the needs of children and families in the worst affected areas,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, adding that children across the country already faced numerous challenges and now they have to cope with this latest threat to their lives.
Khodr called the need for making sure that children and families get the access to nutritious food, safe water and health services, as the impact of malnutrition could last a lifetime.
The UNICEF and other partners in the nutrition cluster estimate that emergency nutrition assistance is needed for 92,000 Afghan children and 8,500 pregnant and lactating women.
The children right support organization estimates also show that between July and December 2018, some 121,000 acutely malnourished children under five and 33,000 pregnant and lactating women could need life-saving nutrition services.