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Can Africa deal with the ticking time bomb of malnutrition?

23.11.2018
Africa is experiencing a surge in the number of people affected by undernourishment and at the forefront of this assault is children.
The South African Child Gauge 2018 recently revealed that in South Africa alone, more than 6-million children are failing to receive the minimum nutrition they need to survive and thrive on a daily basis.The report was published by the Children’s Institute in conjunction with DST-NRF

The challenge of child malnutrition is proving to be a big headache for the continent tethering on the brink of full-blown crisis, especially in many low-income and middle-income nations. It negatively affects the productivity of nations affected and perpetuates socioeconomic challenges among the vulnerable groups in these societies.

The South African Child Gauge 2018 shed light to what seems to be an even bigger problem in the sub-Saharan region. The report says, families and how the households are arranged were critical and dynamic in responding to socioeconomic and political issues. The report found that extended family households accounted for 36% of all households, followed by single-person households at 22%  a household form that is increasing as more adults migrate to cities in search of work,

But the challenge in sub-Saharan African in particular, is more worrying. One in four adults are suffering from undernourishment, making the region the worst affected compared to other nations in the world.

Malnutrition in the sub-Saharan region is more prevalent because of number of issues including adverse climate changes, sluggish economies that struggle to grow and the uncertainty in political climate. These issues then have a detrimental effect on food security.

 

In the Southern Africa, Namibia Zambia together with Malawi continued to show an extremely high occurrence of malnutrition compared to other countries, with 35% of its populations affected in some cases. Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique follows behind in the “high” category with 25% to 34,9%. Lesotho together with Angola recorded moderately high undernourishment levels ranging from 15% to 24, 9%.

The uncapped raising in global food prices and the ever-increasing cost of living has turned food security from a difficult problem face by the sub-Saharan region into a nourishment catastrophe for the underprivileged members of the society. Because a large number of them reside in rural parts of these countries, the barely can afford to have access to basic health care and education services which they have a right to.

Addressing poverty with the aim to improve food security and nourishment is vital to strengthening livelihoods among vulnerable sections of societies. The causes of poverty are related to conflict, harmful economic systems and environmental factors such as drought, population growth and climate change.

Therefore, there needs to be a sustained will from political principals in these countries as a prerequisite for total hunger eradication. Governments need to heed the call to put food security, proper nutrition and the eradication of hunger on top of political agendas while they strive to create an enabling climate for investment, stakeholder participation, improve policies and creating strong legal frameworks.

The eradication of hunger in sub-Saharan Africa should be a concerted effort. The most vulnerable members of society needs protection in terms of strengthening their resilience to conflicts and natural disasters and crating programmes that deal decisively with the problem of undernourishment. Access to land, private and public investments to improve agricultural productivity, access to markets and the use of technology are just some of the ways that can help alleviate the problem of under nutrition before it blows up into a full crisis.

AFRIC Editorial Article.

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