Around 24% of Namibian children under the age of five are stunted, while 6% are wasted and 13% underweight.
Vice president Nangolo Mbumba said this on Tuesday while addressing the World Food Day celebration in the Kavango West’s Kapako constituency.
The event, which is normally celebrated on an annual basis on 16 October, was held under the theme ‘Our actions are the future, A #Zero Hunger World by 2030 is possible’.
Quoting the health ministry’s statistics, Mbumba said: “Twenty-four percent of children under five are stunted (being too short for their age), while 6% are wasted (being too thin for their height), and 13% are underweight”.
He said this stunted growth not only slows down bone growth, but also delays the cognitive and social development of a child, while furthermore impairing their school performance.
“In Namibia, malnutrition rates have been falling, but too many children continue to be trapped in the clutches of this devastating condition. One in four young children suffer from stunting, and are too short for their age,” reiterated Mbumba.
He said this level of chronic malnutrition also shows how inequitable life opportunities are for children in Namibia.
“Such children are at higher risk of mortality and poor health, poor growth and poor development. A multi-sectoral approach is needed to reduce the burden for stunting, wasting, and to appropriately treat wasting to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality,” the vice president continued.
Referring to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s report released last September, Mbumba said it raised concerns that hunger would increase on a worldwide scale.
He said this is evidenced by the fact that 800 million people suffered from malnourishment around the world back in 2016, but this figure had now increased to 821 million by last year. Within the Southern African Development Community region, only 6% (3,4 million hectares) of 50 million hectares of land is arable, while over 70% of the region’s population depends on agriculture for food and employment.
“Data available in 2018 shows that the prevalence of wasting, among children under the age of five, is above 5% in six member states, while stunting prevalence is above 30% in 10 of the 16 member states,” Mbumba noted.
Dolam Children’s Home owner Rosa Namises also spoke about how children within the surrounding society suffer from malnutrition, and how her home has helped many of those children.
She said many children do not have meals three times a day, nor do they have a balanced diet as they live in homes where poverty only allows them to eat once a day, or once every second day.
“This whole thing of three meals per day or a balanced diet is a dream. It is a fantasy because most people cannot afford that,” she stressed. Namises added that there is a lot of food being thrown away in the world while many people are going hungry, especially children.
“You will see a child is 10-years-old, but he looks like he is five because of undernourishment. He looks like a little child. Some children are even undernourished from birth already as the mother did not take vitamins or have a healthy diet, and even when they are born, the mother cannot produce milk,” she said.
According to her, the children end up with no energy and get sick easily because their body is not healthy, nor has it built resilience.
“Our children here eat well, and some – when they are new – eat so heartily,” explained Namises. Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Namibia Children’s Home manager Helen Siyamanda said they always ensure that children at home are well-fed regarding nutritious food, and most are thus fine. “We are not rich, but we try to provide basic food three times a day. That standard diet helps the children’s growth,” she added.
Both the sustainable development goals and Agenda 2030 call for efforts to address hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
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Publish date : 2018-11-02 11:58:39