Child hunger threatening Africa’s economic and social progress

Child hunger threatening Africa’s economic and social progress

A newly arrived Somalian baby refugee in Dadaab, Kenya. Photo: iStock

While global child hunger is declining, in some parts of Africa it is getting worse.

Africa’s future economic and social progress is under threat from alarmingly high levels of child hunger, a new study released at the eighth International Policy Conference on the African Child says.

The report by African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) says while global child hunger is declining, in some parts of Africa it is getting worse, with around 60 million African children stunted and millions more suffering from wasting. Hunger contributes to nearly half of all child deaths.

Update: AfricaCheck has investigated this claim and found the following:

In a widely publicised report, Ethiopia-based non-profit research institute African Child Policy Forum in June 2019 claimed that “about 45% of child deaths in Africa are attributable to hunger”. 

We traced the claim back to a 2013 study published in the Lancet medical journal. This found that 45% of all deaths in children under five in 2011 were attributable to undernutrition.

But one of the study’s authors said this share may not be applicable to Africa as that calculation has not been done. Further, one should be cautious about equating hunger to undernutrition.

Policy decisions and advocacy should be informed by accurate data. Without any specific research on how many children die of hunger in Africa, we rate this claim unproven. 

“It is completely unacceptable that children are still going hungry in Africa in the 21st century,” ACPF executive director Dr. Assefa Bequele said.

“The statistics are truly alarming. Nine out of ten African children don’t get enough nutritious food. One in three is stunted. Two out of five don’t eat regular meals.”

More than 500 delegates including heads of state, ministers, African Union and United Nations representatives, experts and child and women’s rights campaigners are at the conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss the costs and human misery of child hunger.

“Child hunger is driven by extreme poverty, uneven and unequal economic growth, gender inequality and a broken food system,” Bequele said.

“Although Africa now produces more food than ever, it hasn’t resulted in better diets. Conflict and climate change only serve to make it more complicated.”

World-renowned women’s and child rights campaigner Graça Machel said women and girls, along with children from poor and rural backgrounds, suffered the most from hunger. In some countries, stunting rates were twice as high among rural children as among their urban counterparts, she said.

“Despite this deeply concerning reality, many African governments are failing to meet their obligations,” Machel said. “Child hunger could be eradicated if governments met their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil children’s rights and ensure their well-being.”

The ACPF is an independent, not-for-profit Pan-African centre of policy research and advocacy centre established in 2003 out of concern about the situation of the African child.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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