By Kidist Yidnekachew
Three million children die from malnutrition in Africa every year. If the current trends continues to 2030 Africa will have lost a mind boggling 36 million children because of poor nutrition. The statement was made by the African Development Bank president Dr. Akinwumi Adesina during a nutrition meeting held on Monday on the sidelines of the 30th African Union Summit here in Addis Ababa.
The meeting that was held under the theme “Addressing the Cost of Hunger in Africa: A Call for Bold Leadership” underlined the need to overcome all forms of malnutrition in the continent. President of African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina underscored not only poor nutrition is the leading cause of death for millions of children and it vastly affects the economy of the continent.
“Africa is the only region where the number of stunted children has increased from 47 million in 1990 to 59 million in 2016. Malnutrition affects economies. Africa loses at least 25billion dollars annually due to stunting; and malnutrition accounts for at least 11% of Africa’s GDP. So, malnutrition is not just a social cause, it is also an economic issue. Africa’s economic progress is undermined by hunger, malnutrition and stunting.”
According to Dr. Adesina 7 million children die because of malnutrition every year on the backs of equally malnourished mothers. The president added that poor nutrition is also responsible for harming children’s educational development and growth.
“the most important infrastructure for Africa is grey matter infrastructure; the infrastructure that grows the young brains and build the healthy and productive work forces of the future. Grey matter infrastructure, the young growing brain can be built and sustained with decisive actions during the first critical 1000 days of children’s lives from conception onwards; when the quality of life is so crucial. Grey matter infrastructure is damaged by dereliction and decay but with only one difference; stunting cannot be rebuilt like a railway track or a building.”
As part of the Bank’s effort, the president said that in its feed Africa strategy the bank will invest 24 billion dollars to boost agriculture, food and nutrition in Africa over the next 10 years. The president also called for political will in ending malnutrition in Africa.
A high level platform which is known as the African leaders for nutrition has been in place in an aim to advocate for urgent interventions to mitigate the malnutrition crises in the continent.