Pledging to Save Lives event

NEW YORK, September 21, 2022 – “Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Colleagues,

“I am delighted to welcome you to UNICEF for this critical discussion.

“First, I would like to thank Administrator Samantha Power and the United States government for their tireless support of the most vulnerable children and for co-hosting this event.

“I am deeply grateful for the support of our other valued partners and co-hosts, the Government of Senegal and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

“We are here today to sound the alarm: An escalating malnutrition crisis is pushing millions of children to the brink of starvation – and if we don’t do more, this crisis will become a catastrophe.

“The situation is most acute in the Horn of Africa, in the Sahel – and particularly in Somalia, where historic drought is leading to skyrocketing rates of malnutrition.

“I saw the devastation when I visited the Horn in April – and it has only gotten worse since my visit. We estimate that every 60 seconds another child suffers from severe malnutrition across the Region.

“And Somali families are on the brink of starvation. Almost half of Somalia’s under-five population – 1.5 million children – are probably already suffering from the most severe forms of malnutrition.

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“In Ethiopia, we expect that number to be over 1 million. These are unprecedented numbers.

“We know that children have already died. Many more are imminently at risk. Unless we reach these children with ready-to-use therapeutic nutrition and treatment, we face the very real possibility of young children dying on an almost unimaginable scale in the final months of this year.

“We must prevent this crisis from getting out of hand.

“We are deeply grateful to the United States government for increasing support for treating malnutrition.

“Your generous contribution of $200 million in July was the largest single contribution in history to providing a treatment of ready-to-use therapeutic nutrition to children who desperately need it.

“These resources will allow UNICEF and our partners to reach an additional 2.4 million children.

“But in a massive, fast-paced crisis like this, we need more resources to keep up.

“UNICEF is calling for a total of US$1.2 billion to provide a support package to prevent, detect and treat severe malnutrition in the 15 hardest-hit countries over the next year.

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“Our first and foremost priority is to meet the urgent needs of today’s children. But unless we do more to address the underlying causes of malnutrition, we will never break these deadly cycles.

“This means sustained investment to prevent malnutrition in children on a large scale at an early stage – and not just to respond to crises.

“Together with our partners, UNICEF is committed to establishing the Child Nutrition Fund, the first-ever fund dedicated not only to addressing urgent needs, but also to the prevention, detection and sustainable treatment of child malnutrition.

“In 2020, we piloted a first match fund for RUTF to incentivize domestic investment in countries high in severe malnutrition. Demand quickly exceeded the money available. It’s only thanks to our partners at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation that we’ve been able to keep up with this.

“We are now expanding this fund and adding other financial instruments – with the goal of doubling domestic investments to reach vulnerable children and women with prevention and treatment services and goods.

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“Our goal is for the Child Nutrition Fund to become the largest, centralized effort to address malnutrition at scale – streamlining the often complex landscape of prevention and treatment funding.

“In addition to expanding life-saving interventions, we must also invest in building resilience over the longer term – and paying penalties in children’s lives in proactive measures.

“We again urge donors to commit to flexible, predictable funding so we can mobilize resources faster to save children’s lives — and prevent them from suffering from severe malnutrition in the first place.

“Children’s worst challenges are not easy to solve. But we know how to save children from severe malnutrition and agonizing death.

“How can we fail to act? We can’t. And we won’t.

“So thank you all again for being here today and for your commitment to children.

“And now I’m thrilled to call USAID Administrator Samantha Power onto the stage – to thank her for her tireless devotion to children. We couldn’t wish for a better partner.”

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