Fighting MalnutritionAs the years have passed, the nutrition of sub-Saharan Africans has shown little improvement. As of 2016, nearly 222 million people suffer from a form of undernourishment. With the population expected to boom shortly, this figure has a dangerous potential to increase. Fighting malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa is bringing together investors, governments and NGOs in efforts to fight malnutrition in this region.

Consequences of Malnutrition

For African nations, current statistics on malnutrition paint a grim picture: nearly every country south of the Sahara reports at least 10% of children as underweight. The problems caused by widespread malnutritionregardless of ageare apparent. According to World Bank statistics, malnourished children typically provide far less value later in life, losing an average of 10% of their potential lifetime earnings. Likewise, a malnourished mother may conceive a similarly deficient child with congenital disabilities and an equal risk of low productivity. While it is simple to recognize malnutrition as a source of other regional issues, identifying the underlying causes of malnutrition has proven to be more complicated.

The Complex Causes

Malnutrition is not exclusively caused by undernutrition. In many cases, the low variety of available foods causes developmental problems in children, which contributes to those mentioned above poor professional outcomes. The region’s poverty causes discrepancies in the food distribution of local towns, with communities becoming dependent on staple crops like grains while missing out on fruits, meats and other nutrient-dense foods. With surveys reporting that 39% of families in sub-Saharan Africa suffer precarious access to food, these cereal crops are the only way for many families to avoid going to sleep hungry.

This lack of nutritional variety primarily stems from the region’s poor-quality infrastructure. Without proper roads, many rural farmers struggle to bring their crops to market, making the trade of goods essential to a running economyand a balanced dietnearly impossible. With better economic conditions as well as simple roads, citizens could gain crucial access both physically and financially to foods they could not previously afford.

The Need for Investments

Food insecurity is not the only issue plaguing sub-Saharan Africa: with various forms of povertyincluding fiscal, water and energy povertyalso demanding attention, it appears that a fix for one issue may have to envelop the other problems as well. Fortunately, improving the infrastructure for one of these issues incidentally benefits the others.

The region needs massive investments for projects like dams, bridges, power plants and namely roads. Experts advocate this investment on multiple grounds: not only would it assist in fighting malnutrition, but it also represents a sensible investment. Investment specialists recommend this action, and private companies in the U.K. have seen greater returns on investments to Africa than anywhere else in the world, according to the Overseas Development Institute.

A Future Worth Fighting For

Fortunately, current world leaders began to listen to this advice. Organizations like The World Bank have already organized the financial framework to fund ambitious projects fighting malnutrition globally. With Chinese investment into Africa totaling nearly $300 billion from 2005-2018, countries in sub-Saharan Africa are starting to receive the foreign investment necessary to feed their people adequately.

Fighting malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa is no small task, but the current trend of investment shows promise for the future. The Infrastructure Consortium of Africa reported that between 2013-2017, the mean annual funding for infrastructure development was $77 billion, double the average from 2000-2006. If investment continues, much-needed dietary improvements could finally become a reality. Perhaps in the next ten years, a variety of foods will quite literally be a walk down the road for African families.

– Joe Clark
Photo: Flickr

Global Food Security Reauthorization Act
The Global Food Security Reauthorization Act is a bill that re-implements the original Global Food Security Act in 2016, which essentially promotes and funds international nutrition programs. The bill itself will help millions of people worldwide who struggle with hunger, and the updated version of this act contains new amendments vital to the bill’s success.

What is the Global Food Security Act?

The Global Food Security Act was created in order to improve agricultural development internationally. Its main objectives were to establish the United States as a partner in the fight against world hunger, and to demonstrate that the U.S. government would continuously support bipartisan initiatives to prevent further malnutrition. The act also initiated alliances among the United States government, the private sector and nonprofit organizations, so that each branch could work together to pursue the bill’s goals.

Unfortunately, the original law only lasted one year — this was a major loss for all those who advocate for hunger alleviation efforts. However, the Senate reintroduced this bill in 2018, titled as the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act. This bill reaffirms the old law into existence, and adds new provisions to ensure its proper execution.

Thankfully, the new act had greater success in the Senate than its predecessor. It passed, and now awaits approval in the House of Representatives. The bill only needs a simple majority within the House, and then can be signed into law and its provisions will come to fruition.

Why Should the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act Pass?

This act will do a lot of good for a lot of diverse people around the world. This is a substantial step in the fight against world hunger and malnutrition. This is a win for the victims of hunger, and for all organizations, like The Borgen Project, who want to help people live longer, more productive lives. Some of the key reasons for the passing of the bill are as follows:

  • Firstly, the fiscal years in the new bill have extended to three years from one year in the original law, which applies to years 2018 to 2021. Unlike the 2016 act, the new bill allows more time to rightfully enforce the law. The law will be more effective since the government has more time to enact its provisions.
  • Secondly, the bill will also introduce a deworming program, which will rid individuals — mostly children — of parasites. These initiatives will occur after diet diversification and will help a number of children in different countries. The deworming programs will also encourage proper public health programs.
  • Thirdly, the focus of the bill will be on children and mothers, so that they receive an adequate and diverse nutrition, which will promote their local communities at its core.

These new provisions should allow for the proper implementation of the act, and the United States government will hopefully utilize this piece of legislation to keep its promise to help in global hunger alleviation efforts.

If the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act were to pass, then a plethora of families would be able to live healthier and safer lives, and consequently develop their societies and local communities even more. The effects of this bill will improve public health, education systems, family life and a whole host of other issues, so do your part to support and contact your representatives today.

– Diana Hallisey
Photo: Flickr