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Rising Epidemic of Hungry Children in Africa: Report

African children are victims of food deprivation. | Photo: Reuters African children are victims of food deprivation. | Photo: Reuters
Hunger is the main cause for almost half of child deaths on the African continent, according to a study by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). It is also the main cause of stunted growth in one in three children across these nations.
African children are continue to be victims of severe hunger due to a lack of political will, climate change according to a new study. 

The study revealed that almost 60 million children in Africa do not have enough food, 90 percent of minors don’t “meet the criteria for minimum acceptable diet” and 60 percent of them don’t meet minimum meal frequency.

Liberia, Congo, and Chad are at the bottom of the chart for performing worst when it comes to infants aged six to 23 months eating enough.

Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are next in the list.

“Child hunger is fundamentally a political problem,” said Assefa Bequele, ACPF’s executive director.

According to Bequele, child hunger is the result of extreme poverty, uneven and unequal growth, gender inequality, and a problematic food system.

Apart from risking lives and growth of children, hunger also negatively affects the economic growth of countries.

“It is estimated that child hunger costs African countries between 1.9 and 16.5% of their GDP," outlined the ACPF report. 

"Stunting alone is estimated to have reduced Africa’s present GDP per capita by 10%. Ensuring that children have enough food is, therefore, not as glibly characterized a “social welfare” waste, but an investment in people’s wellbeing, social justice and a country’s economic future,” the report stated.

For every dollar spent to reduce stunting, “there is a return of about US$22 in Chad, US$21 in Senegal, and US$17 in Niger and Uganda.”

If the countries invested early on in children’s lives, their return rate would increase by up to US$85 in Nigeria, US$80 in Sudan, and US$60 in Kenya.

Mauritius and South Africa are the most child-friendly nations on the continent.

Conflict, colonialism and climate change are the major reasons for this epidemic. Three out of four stunted children under the age of five are living in war zones.  

Globally, one child dies every second due to hunger and 10,000 every day, but the problem is worsening in the African continent even though the global situation is getting better.

“It is the offspring of the unholy alliance of political indifference, unaccountable governance, and economic mismanagement. Persistent and naked though the reality is, it remains a silent tragedy, one that remains largely unacknowledged and tolerated, perhaps because it is a poor man’s problem,” Bequele said.

The study warns that Africa could have one billion undernourished, malnourished, and hungry children by 2050 if the situation is not tackled immediately.

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  • Countries: Africa
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