Study reveals half of child deaths in Africa due to hunger

A study carried out by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) has unveiled that hunger accounts for nearly all child deaths across Africa, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The Addis Ababa-based ACPF defines itself as an independent, non-profit Pan-African Institute of policy research and dialogue on the African child.

The forum also revealed in the report that one in three African children, which amounts to almost 60 million, were stunted in 2018 because of food deprivation.

They claimed that the cause for the food deprivation was not a lack of resources but what is seen as ‘fundamentally a political problem’ despite the continent’s economic growth in recent years.

In an urgent call for action, a study by the ACPF said that a child dies every three seconds globally due to food deprivation, equivalent to 10,000 children every day.

Although the statistics point at an improvement in child hunger at a global level, it is getting worse in some parts of Africa, where the problem is largely a question of political will, The Guardian reported.

The report titled For Lack of Will – Child Hunger, underlined that child hunger in Africa is not only a question of poverty and resources, but of policies and redistribution.

According to the study, nine out of 10 children are malnourished or undernourished in Africa and 60 percent do not meet the minimum meal frequency threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The threshold determined by WHO is two meals a day for toddlers between six and eight months old and three for children until 23 months of age.

At the bottom of the chart that shows children aged six to 23 months receiving sufficient and diverse food with a healthy frequency are Liberia, Congo, and Chad. These countries are followed by Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Child hunger is fundamentally a political problem,” argued Assefa Bequele, the executive director of ACPF.

“It is the offspring of the unholy alliance of political indifference, unaccountable governance and economic mismanagement. It is completely unacceptable that children are still going hungry in Africa in the 21st century. The statistics are truly alarming,” Bequele warned.

The report also indicates that hunger, which impairs growth and cognitive development of children can cost African countries nearly 17 percent of their GDP in the near future. Present GDP of the continent has seen an estimated reduction by 10 percent due to stunting alone.

“Women and girls, along with children from poor and rural backgrounds, suffer the most from hunger. In some countries, stunting rates are twice as high among rural children as among their urban counterparts,” Graça Machel, a child rights campaigner elaborated at last month’s International Policy Conference on the African Child.

If current levels continue unabated, there could be one billion undernourished, malnourished and hungry children and young people in Africa by 2050.

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