Thursday, 12 November 2009

In a World of Plenty ...

... why are so many of us hungry?

The child pictured, from Pakistan, is a window cleaner and the sole breadwinner in her family. "Whatever I earn I give to my mother, and when I am a hungry, I eat at the food distribution centre." BBC News

Yesterday's media commentary on the UNICEF report, TRACKING PROGRESS ON CHILD AND MATERNAL NUTRITION raises some alarming statistics - over 90% of the worlds most undernourished children are in Asia and Africa with an estimated 195 million children in developing countries suffering from stunting and poor physical development as a result of undernourishment.

Undernutrition caused by poor feeding and care, aggravated by illness leads to a cycle of recurring illness and faltering growth – irreversibly damaging their development and their cognitive abilities, and impairing their capacities as adults. If a child suffers from diarrhoea – due to a lack of clean water or adequate sanitation, or because of poor hygiene practices – it will drain nutrients from his or her body.

And so it goes, from bad to worse: 1 billion people world-wide are undernourished. and hungry. Children who are weakened by nutritional deficiencies cannot stave off illness for long, and the frequent and more severe bouts of illness they experience make them even weaker. A third of all deaths of under 5s is related to undernutrition.

Fifty-nine percent of under-5s in Afghanistan show signs of moderate to severe stunting and comes out as the country where percentage wise, its the highest. India, Nigeria and Pakistan also have percentages in their 40s.

In a world where there are people over-eating, and too much of our food is wasted, it is outrageous that globally, as we approach 2010, we still have instances when our children go to sleep hungry at night.

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