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Child Malnutrition in Cote d’Ivoire

For the past six years, the rate of chronic child malnutrition in Cote d’Ivoire has remained at a whopping 40 percent. This is slightly higher than the overall population’s malnutrition rate, which is a solid 30 percent. The Ivory Coast, located on the coastal edge of Western Africa, experiences high malnutrition rates due to a multitude of factors including high food prices and inadequate food access, which is a consequence of hot, dry weather.

Tumultuous political circumstances from the early to late 2000s divided Cote d’Ivoire into North and South; rebels then controlled its northern region. As a result, government and public services in the north were wrecked, the economy collapsed and food access was scarcer than ever. Health and food distribution services were no longer functional. Thankfully, in 2008 its government created nutrition centers in the north and east, of which there are now 14.

Yet, the regions exhibiting the highest chronic rate of malnutrition in Cote d’Ivoire are Bafing, Worodougou and Montagnes. Additionally, the Savanes, Worodougou and Montagnes regions exhibit the highest concentrated rates of consequent stunted growth. Widespread national poverty as well as thousands of displaced peoples further complicate the dire circumstances.

It is evident that Cote d’Ivoire’s government lacks the funds necessary to effectively combat its malnutrition problems. A few humanitarian organizations have assisted, most notably Action Against Hunger (ACF) from 2002 to 2011. ACF’s aid ceased abruptly when its funds were depleted. The organization retracted much of its aid and missionaries, a circumstance that somewhat reversed the critical progress it had contributed.

Diarrassouba Issouf, an official at the Family Protection Unit in Korhogo, said that the humanitarian organizations’ exits left primary areas without food and resulted in fewer women visiting nutrition sites.

Cote d’Ivoire’s stagnating and critical malnutrition levels, especially in young children, demands immediate attention. With more international humanitarian assistance and aid, more lasting improvement may be on Cote d’Ivoire’s horizon.

– Arielle Swett

Sources: All Africa, Action Against Hunger, UNICEF
Photo: News Wire