Child malnutrition across the Horn of Africa region has been exacerbated by climate change and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chopra Jonas.
"Children whose immune systems are already weakened by malnutrition cannot fight off disease, which means they are just as likely to die from disease as from starvation. It's devastating and preventable. If we don't act now, millions more children will be on the brink of death."
In 23 drought-affected counties in Kenya, some 900 000 children under the age of five need urgent treatment for severe, life-threatening malnutrition, the official said.
The malnutrition crisis among children in drought-affected northern Kenyan counties has reached alarming levels hence the need for a speedy response, said the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas Thursday.
The worsening drought, paired with four consecutive failed rainy seasons in the country, has left 1.4 million children with limited access to nutritious food, clean water, sanitation, education and protection from abuse.
A depressed rainy season forecast for October-December could push more children to the brink of starvation, Chopra Jonas said.
Amid this backdrop, UNICEF is expanding interventions such as providing milk and ready-to-use therapeutic food to malnutrition-affected children in Kenya's northern border, according to the Goodwill Ambassador.
Also noteworthy in this regard is the construction of a solar-powered well that has allowed the children to have access to drinking water, attend school and be protected from diarrheal diseases.