Last update: 2023-08-08
- Persistent food and nutrition insecurity continues to be a chronic problem globally. Almost half of deaths (45 per cent) among children under the age of five years around the world are linked to undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight).
- Drought is the most common cause of food shortages. Other underlying factors include conflict, poverty, floods and lack of agricultural infrastructure. Drought is exacerbated by environmental degradation and climate change.
- One of the main concerns with food insecurity is insufficient nutrient intake and subsequent malnutrition. Children and adults who are malnourished have an increased risk of severe forms of infections, and higher rates of morbidity and mortality.
- Unlike rapid onset disasters, food insecurity has a gradual or slow onset. Response to food insecurity includes nutrition-specific interventions aimed at preventing or treating acute malnutrition, while including actions to address any existing drought and food insecurity.
Main health impacts
|Health concern||Risk factors|
|Malnutrition including micronutrient deficiency||Insufficient nutrient intake, increased vulnerability to infection, morbidity and mortality. Vulnerable groups include children under five years, pregnant and lactating women (PLW), people with chronic illness such as HIV and tuberculosis and the elderly.|
|Diarrhoeal diseases||Limited access to water supplies, hygiene and sanitation services can lead to diarrhoeal diseases.|
|Respiratory illnesses and skin diseases||Significant population displacement following drought and overcrowded, communal emergency shelters, coupled with poor hygiene can lead to respiratory illnesses or skin diseases.|
Priority actions for teams with community and public health response capacity
|Community-based action and social mobilization||
For teams with additional clinical capacity
Please always refer to the appropriate local or international guidelines for clinical management.
Important primary health care interventions during droughts and food insecurity periods
- Specific primary care interventions for diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory tract infections, vector-borne diseases, noncommunicable diseases as well as other communicable diseases.
- Continuity of core service delivery at primary health care structures including maternal and child health.
- If disrupted, advocate and/or support authorities to ensure access to services and medication for patients with noncommunicable diseases and who require palliative care.
- CMAM which includes: community outreach and mobilization; inpatient management at a stabilization centre for SAM cases with complications; outpatient management for SAM cases without complications; and supplementary feeding programmes for moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) cases without complications. Implementation of the various components of CMAM can vary across geographic areas and implementers.
- Vaccination in children (as part of malnutrition prevention strategies).