Around 150,000 children are still at risk of malnutrition in central Vietnam more than a week after the massive Typhoon Damrey struck the region, with relief efforts yet to reach poor remote areas, according to a UNICEF report.
Fishing families in the hardest-hit provinces struggle to make ends meet at the best of times, and some local children have already been diagnosed with malnutrition.
Malnutrition is not only threatening large numbers of children under five years; more than 80,000 pregnant and nursing women in the area are also in need of special care, said the U.N.’s childcare agency.
Typhoon Damrey, one of the worst storms to hit Vietnam in years, made landfall on November 4 with devastating consequences for the central provinces of Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen and Quang Nam, where people rely heavily on rice and fish farming. At least 106 people have died and thousands of houses have been damaged.
UNICEF said its workers have encountered several “vulnerable” children in the region who have had no meat or fish since the storm, while clean drinking water remains in short supply.
The typhoon has also worsened sanitation conditions and increased the risk of waterborne diseases, it said.
For these children, the consequences of the typhoon are “ongoing”, said the agency, blaming a lack of communication about how to prepare for storms at a community level as the reason for the fall-out.
UNICEF said it is helping by providing micronutrients and calorie supplements for children and breastfeeding mothers, and water purification products for families in the affected areas.
Vietnam has been suffering from particularly destructive weather this year. Floods in northern Vietnam killed at least 26 people and washed away hundreds of homes in August before the central region was ravaged repeatedly by storms and flooding. Typhoon Doksuri killed at least eight people in the region in September, followed by flooding that claimed at least 54 lives.
Experts from the International Labor Organization said at a conference in Hanoi in June that frequent and severe natural disasters may force many Vietnamese children into early labor.
They said that without proper protection, many children will give up school to help their families when disasters hit.
Last year, tropical storms and flooding killed 264 people in Vietnam and caused damage worth VND40 trillion ($1.75 billion), nearly five times more than in 2015.
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