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Picture of a small boy from Syria
January 2024

Overcoming child malnutrition

Join us in saying, "Enough!" to child hunger and malnutrition

Tamer’s story of recovery

Syrian children have faced so much: being born into a prolonged crisis and growing up amid conflict, earthquakes and displacement. According to UNICEF, 6.5 million Syrian children are in urgent need of assistance.

Fourteen-month-old Tamer* was one of these. He is one of almost 50,000 children who have been checked for malnutrition through a World Vision project in Syria. The screening includes measuring the upper arm with a tape, where different colours indicate the child’s nutritional status. When Tamer was first measured, the tape showed red, meaning he had severe malnutrition.

*Name changed to protect identity.

The mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape for malnutrition testing.
Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape used to test for malnutrition.

The path to malnutrition

The route to Tamer’s condition began years before his birth. His mother and the rest of the family were caught up in a siege in western Syria. For a while, all the family had to eat was tinned food – but even that ran out. Food became so scarce that people resorted to rummaging through bins.

Tamer’s family lived like this for three years, and his mother’s body took the toll. She suffered two miscarriages during this period.

When the siege was lifted, the family moved to a displacement camp in the northwest of the country.

Tamer was born a year later.

Child from Syria being carried by mother.
Tamer with his mother.

As a baby, Tamer wasn’t gaining weight like he should. He looked pale, tired, and didn’t have a healthy appetite. His mother worried about this but there was little access to medical help – until a team of medical professionals partnering with World Vision scoured the camp for malnourished children. This is when they came across Tamer.

From red to green

The team worked with Tamer’s mother to establish a well-rounded diet so he could get sufficient nutrients. They continued to visit fortnightly to check on his progress. Three and a half months later, when he was measured, the tape had changed from showing red to green. A wonderful outcome for him and his family.

Child being measured for malnutrition with tape around arm.
The measuring tape shows green, which means Tamer is no longer malnourished.

Losing everything 

Hunger and malnutrition are the heart-breaking reality for many children across the world. None more so than those living in fragile settings, such as those impacted by climate change or caught up in conflict.

Northwest Syria is home to millions of displaced Syrians who, in addition to experiencing more than a decade of conflict, were severely impacted by two powerful earthquakes in February 2023. In a matter of minutes, families lost their homes and possessions, not to mention schools, medical clinics, jobs and livelihoods.

Currently, more than 90% of Syrians live below the poverty line, and an estimated 12.1 million Syrians are food insecure, which means that they are lacking reliable access to sufficient affordable, nutritious food.

Enough is enough 

A life of plenty for every child is possible, yet every day more children go hungry.

Enough of the right food and nutrition is still not reaching the children who need it.

This is just not good enough. Children are speaking out against this injustice and proposing solutions. Together we will answer their call.

The number of children dying from hunger had been declining every decade since the 1980s. But now it’s back on the rise, with spiralling food costs.

Children are bearing the brunt of an unequal food system, made worse by conflicts and climate change. Unable to provide for their children, parents face impossible choices like taking them out of school to undertake dangerous work or marrying them off, even selling them, so they can feed their family.

We believe there is enough in this world for every child, no matter where they live, or the crises they face, to have the nourishing food they need to thrive and for families to be more resilient.

Last year, children and families were supported with life-saving food, and the training and resources to help them end hunger.

This year, with your support we can do even more.

We say ENOUGH! No child will suffer from hunger if we all act now.


Let's end child hunger


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