Health and Nutrition Fund

Child Hunger is Ugly!

Child poverty is hungry, and child hunger is ugly. Through hunger, poverty devastates a child's body, destroys hope, and overwhelms the child's ability to survive. Poverty and hunger are ugly things!

Picture Hunger and Poverty in Africa

What image comes to mind when you think about hunger in Africa and malnourished children? Does your picture of poverty in Africa look like famine and hunger in Ethiopia from the 1980s? Does your picture of poverty focus on the effects of malnutrition seen on the bodies of refugees, babies and toddlers? Or perhaps it looks like food shortages and food insecurity?

Food insecurity is defined as not having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food that allows a person to remain healthy and lead an active life.

It's easy to see the pain and hunger documented in a photo when it exploits the suffering caused by child malnutrition. But hungry children in Africa, just like hungry children living in extreme poverty around the world, have a greater problem. Long before you see hunger reflected in a child’s eyes or see malnutrition in their body, they have already fought a persistent battle with food.

Hunger is Devastating Children in Africa

Hunger contributes to 45% of all childhood deaths in Africa,1 killing more children on the continent than anything else. And tens of millions of other children in Africa are barely surviving, consistently without enough food to eat.

A full 90% of African children are not meeting the criteria for a minimum acceptable diet set by the World Health Organization.1 They are hungry or malnourished in some way, and their diet is insufficient to support early childhood development and healthy growth.

In fact, undernutrition - when a person’s intake of vitamins and minerals is less than what it needs to be for proper development, growth and health - is so severe and widespread in Africa that 59 million hungry children are stunted and 14 million suffer from wasting.1

Stunting (low height-for-age) is the result of chronic or recurrent undernutrition. Wasting (low weight-for-height) is mostly an acute condition associated with recent or severe weight loss.

Hunger and food insecurity are major contributors to the overall problem of poverty in Africa. But the true viciousness is that poverty, in turn, is the primary driver of hunger in Africa. One feeds the other. And together tens of millions of children are going hungry and dying.

Food insecurity affects about nine percent of the global population, with hundreds of millions of children experiencing hunger as a result.
Hunger and Disease

This prevalence of food insecurity and hunger means all aspects of child malnutrition are present in all areas of Africa. Child malnutrition is prevalent in Sub-saharan Africa, East Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa, including Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Burundi, Niger, and Zambia, to name just a few. Then, when diseases like Ebola virus, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, and the coronavirus COVID-19 come along, they make the hunger crisis worse.

Although child hunger has a consistent and significant impact on economic growth, a pandemic - or even a regional epidemic - challenges the fragile agricultural systems which sustain the poor. Protective health measures such as isolating and social distancing make it impossible for the poor to access food systems beyond their own farms or plots of land. So, when a highly contagious and lethal infectious disease hits during a time of drought or famine, the fragile food security the poor have evaporates altogether.

are attributable to micronutrient deficiencies

1 in 3
go hungry for a day or more

were undernourished in 2018

Source: African Child Policy Forum

Help Children in Africa

The hunger rates in Africa are so steep that they can feel overwhelming. But we are not helpless. Hunger can be fought, and hunger can be beaten. You can help families in extreme poverty around the world by providing nutritious food and supplements to children desperately in need through Compassion’s Health and Nutrition Fund.

By giving to the Health and Nutrition Fund, you provide supplemental food, vitamins and medical care to malnourished children in all the countries we work in. And you will support our therapeutic feeding and food stability initiatives for infants and newborns.

Your donation will safeguard hungry children in Africa and other countries from illnesses that hamper their development and threaten their lives.

How We Provide Health and Nutrition

Compassion International does all of its work through partnerships with thousands of local churches around the world. Our local church partners tailor the programs to the contextualized needs of the children in their communities to deliver the best possible care.

When children do not have enough food to eat, or the food available to them lacks necessary nutrients--malnutrition, starvation and chronic health issues become a serious and potentially life-threatening reality. Compassion’s Health and Nutrition initiatives allow our local church partners to meet the life-threatening needs of the children in their communities, while also providing preventive care to support long-term wellness.

We invite you to partner with us by making a donation today.

Give With Confidence

With Compassion, your donation is used wisely to help children around the world.

Lock IconWe use industry-standard communication protocols to ensure your personal information is encrypted and transmitted without risk.

Trusted Charity Since 1952

Have Questions About Compassion and How We Work?

Donating to a charity is an important decision. So when you’re passionate about a cause and want to make a difference, we encourage you to do your research. Compassion is 100% committed to financial integrity, stewardship and using each dollar wisely. If you have any questions about Compassion or exactly how your donation will be used, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


1 ACPF (2019). For Lack of Will: Child Hunger in Africa. Addis Ababa: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).


Please call us at 800-336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT, to speak with a Compassion representative.