Madagascar drought
Severe drought in Madagascar is causing what some have called the first climate-induced famine. Photo: AFP / RIJASOLO

The current climate crisis has pushed almost 30 million children, 27 million, into hunger and malnutrition, making an increase of 135 per cent since last year's records – according to a recent Save the Children report.

In the countries that have been heavily impacted by weather extremes in 2022, including Chad, Afghanistan, Haiti and Yemen, children made up almost half of the 57 million people who were forced into severe levels of acute food insecurity.

Due to women representing 80 per cent of the people who have been displaced by weather extremes, women leaders are leading the global fight against hunger.

The 12 countries that faced the harshest impacts of climate change were Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Pakistan, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia – reported Save the Children.

Dr Muhammad Hanif, who works at a Save the Children medical facility in the Sindh Province in Pakistan, told reporters: "I am a doctor, so my weapon is medicine. It's what we rely on to treat and save lives. But during the floods, I felt like a soldier in the battlefield without a weapon; nothing to save the life of children or pregnant mothers."

"By the end of last year, I treated about 1,000 children for hunger-related illnesses, and about 30,000 other patients for various diseases that were inflamed by climate change," he added.

In the communities most affected by climate change, women are leading the efforts to maintain and manage clean water sources.

Women leaders are also planting climate-resilient crops and starting new businesses that support displaced persons and those pushed into extreme acute food insecurity.

Rose Chepochonyil, a Community Health Volunteer in Kenya, is educating mothers on how to identify malnutrition in their children.

Using the MUAC bands, provided by Action Against Hunger, Chepochonyil teaches mothers how to wrap the band around the arms of their children in the comfort of their own home.

"I feel very proud... Women are now able to screen their children at their home without having other neighbours see that their child is malnourished," Chepochonyil said.

In Afghanistan, a country under Taliban rule that has forced six million people one step from famine, female humanitarian workers are no longer permitted to enter offices or communities that are in desperate need of emergency care.

More than a third of Action Against Hunger's workers operating in Afghanistan are women. The female employees are working as doctors, nurses, engineers, psychologists, and leaders in the fight against global hunger.

K.T., a psychologist working with Action Against Hunger in Afghanistan, who asked to remain anonymous, regularly monitors the mental health of those facing food shortages.

The Psychologist explained: "When a patient tells me that they see results in themselves and that they are healing [and begin to] regain hope and live life as it is, accepting that life is full of obstacles. They are able to overcome difficulties without hurting others or herself."

In South Sudan, out of its population of 10.9 million, 8.9 million people are in need of higher support.

In a nation that is subject to extreme floods, local women have made history by curating small businesses that provide communities with a source of food.

Nyaok Dieng owns and cultivates her own farm, using the disastrous floods to her advantage and generating a successful rice business.

Dieng told reporters: "I'll make my rice farm because rice grows in the flood."

Nyagai Malual has also used innovation to become the owner of a small rice farming business that is paving the way for women to end acute hunger in South Sudan.

"It's hard work," Malual admitted, going on to explain: "But even if we stay here from now until the evening, I won't get tired because I need to have more experience. In the future, I'll carry on this experience, and I'll make something for myself."