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Malnutrition in Mali

A land-locked country in West Africa, Mali has an economy that is primarily based on agriculture. The main crops produced are millet, rice and corn. However, this country-wide reliance on agriculture depends on the weather, which often includes unpredictable rainfall patterns. Inconsistent agricultural production, high population growth and increasing desertification are some of the causal factors that have resulted in the country’s ranking 182nd out of 189 countries in the world on the Human Development Index. Malnutrition also happens to be one of the leading causes of death in Mali. Because of this, many NGOs and governments around the world have funded programs in Mali to help improve living conditions and decrease malnutrition.

Political Instability

Aside from agricultural issues, political instability has also led to severe malnutrition in Mali. Recently, USAID predicted that an additional 868,000 people will require urgent food assistance in 2019. Of these 868,000, 160,000 will be children. Children who are malnourished are at high risk of growth deficiencies; as such, many children in Mali are severely underdeveloped with regards to their height and weight.

Current and Past Progress

However, some progress has been made. From 2006 to 2013, thinness among women of reproductive age and adolescent women decreased by 2 and 4 percent, respectively. Additionally, the prevalence of underweight children (under the age of 5), decreased from 14 percent to 13 percent. Although this may not seem like a significant statistical improvement, 1 percent of the population of children under 5 years old (3.33 million) represents 33,300 children, indicating that progress has been made towards reducing malnutrition in Mali.

In 2010, then-U.S. President Barack Obama started the Feed the Future initiative, a U.S. funded foreign assistance program that targets specific countries to alleviate global poverty and improve food security. As one of 12 countries selected to receive aid, Mali continues to benefit from the implementation of environmental and nutritional plans. The country has begun to invest in fertilizers in farms across the nation to improve the quality of crop production, and an additional 4.3 million trees have been planted around the country to help make farms more resilient. Additionally, the initiative has encouraged farmers to plant oilseeds, which they can sell for people to use as biofuel and soap. As a result of all of this, the Feed the Future initiative has provided nutritional and humanitarian assistance to millions of individuals in Mali.

Other USAID programs have proven to be of great help in Mali as well, such as the Food for Peace program which has provided $28.5 million of emergency food assistance in the Mopti, Koulikoro and Segou Regions. The program aims to increase the diversity of foods consumed in these regions to decrease malnutrition and make the population healthier.

Today, the Office of Food for Peace (FFP), an organization within USAID, partners with the U.N. World Food Programme, U.N. Children’s Fund and CARE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending world poverty, to provide food assistance in the poorest regions of Mali. As of July 2019, FFP assists 300,000 people with food distributions, supplemental nutrition assistance and asset-building activities. 33,000 severely malnourished children have received ready-to-use food and 124,000 people in the Mopti Region have been provided with programs to improve food security, promote hygiene and provide conflict support.

– Hayley Jellison
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Zambia

Zambia is home to 16.45 million people. It had one of the world’s fastest-growing economies up until 2014. Despite this, rural poverty and high unemployment levels remain rampant across the country. As a result, the nation’s average life expectancy is lower than the global average. However, significant steps have been taken in an attempt to improve the situation. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Zambia.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Zambia

  1. The CIA reports the average life expectancy for in Zambia to be 51.4 years for males and 54.7 years for females. This is a slight increase from life expectancy in 1980 when Zambian males had an average life expectancy of 50.4 years while Zambia females had an average life expectancy of 52.5 years. Zambia currently ranks 222 in life expectancy out of 223 countries.
  2. Over the last 10 years, there has been a 30 percent reduction in child mortality in Zambia. UNICEF reported that Zambia’s under-five mortality rate was 60 deaths per 1000 births in 2017. This is an extremely large decrease in comparison to the 1990 under-five mortality rate, which was 185 deaths per 1000 births.

  3. Zambia’s high rate of child stunting is due in part to lack of poor water sanitation and hygiene. Currently, 14 percent of the Zambian population and 46 percent of Zambian schools do not have access to basic hygiene services, such as handwashing facilities with soap and water.

  4. UNICEF has set up the WASH program in response to the lack of hygienic access in Zambia. In partnership with the Government’s Seven National Development Plan, UNICEF is helping Zambia achieve the Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals. WASH has been providing sustained access to clean water and encouraging the adoption of hygiene practices in schools throughout Zambia.

  5. Since 2010, Zambia has been part of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN) in order to further battle childhood stunting, which affects 40 percent of children under the age of five. Since joining SUN, the District Nutrition Coordinating Committees (DNCC) has expanded its efforts throughout several districts in Zambia. From 2010 up to 2017,  SUN in Zambia had reached 44 percent of its goal to create coherent policy and legal framework, 62 percent of its goal of financial tracking and resource mobilization and 81 percent of its goal to align programs around a Common Results Framework.

  6. The top cause of early death in Zambia is HIV/AIDS. However, new HIV infections have dropped since 2010 by 27 and AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 11 percent. In order to maintain this downward trend, comprehensive sex education have been implemented in schools. As of 2016, 65 percent of Zambians living with HIV had access to antiretroviral treatment to prevent further transmission.

  7. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has expanded its efforts to spread treatment for HIV/AIDS throughout Zambia. In 2018 alone, AHF provided treatment for 71,000 Zambian HIV/AIDS patients.
  8. HIV/AIDS, neonatal disorders, and lower respiratory infections are the top three causes of death in Zambia since 2007. However, the number of deaths caused by these diseases have dropped since 2007 by 63.1 percent, 8 percent, and 14.5 percent respectively.
  9. As of 2018, a total of $64 per person was being spent on health in Zambia. This money comes from development assistance for health ($28) and government health spending ($24) while $12 comes from out-of-pocket and prepaid private spending, respectively. This total is expected to increase to $135 by 2050.

  10. Though the Zambian uses 14.5 percent of its total expenditures on health expenditure, there is still much work to be done. Currently, Zambia benefits from USAID’s assistance in order to scale up prevention, care and treatment programs. However, the country does not have enough advanced hospitals to offer specialized treatment. Nationally, there is an average of 19 hospital beds per 10,000 people. Additionally, WHO reports that Zambia has a physician density of 0.1 doctors per 1,000 people, which is far below the comparable country average of 3.5 physicians per 1,000 patients.

The 10 facts about life expectancy in Zambia listed above can be corrected through proper planning, targeted efforts to decrease poverty, the establishment of water/hygiene practices and development of education throughout the country. With the help of other nations and organizations, life expectancy in Zambia can be improved.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

hunger in zambia
The African country of Zambia has been working to end its epidemic of hunger.  While the World Bank considers the country lower-middle income, hunger is still extreme because economic disparities have grown with the GDP.  The 2012 Human Development index gave Zambia a poor review, ranking it 163 out of 186 countries.  The number of people at risk of food insecurity rose from 63,000 in 2012 to 209,000 in 2013.

An influx of 34,000 refugees, 6,000 of whom receive no assistance from the country, increases the food burden.

Hunger in Zambia has been a major concern, as the country suffers from high rates of malaria, malnutrition, an HIV rate of 12.7% and an extreme poverty rate of 42.7%.  This poverty rate rises much higher in the countryside, where subsistence farming flourishes.

Zambians are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture, which relies on one harvest that can make or break a farmer’s year.  There is little economic incentive to pursue other fields, and when food and money are tight, farmers often do casual labor at other farms to supplement their incomes.  This causes their own harvests to suffer because they are not devoting enough time to their own land.  Food prices are also high, meaning the supplemental incomes do not stretch as far as they need to when harvests do not supply enough food.  This has led to a 45.4% rate of malnutrition; almost half of Zambian children are deficient in vitamin A and iron.

Malnutrition and the dependence on unreliable agriculture has led the country to low educational and economic attainment.  Farmers do not have the ability to focus on anything other than putting food on their tables.  While educational enrollment has increased, Zambians only complete an average of six years of education.

These agricultural burdens have become a focus for the nation.  Zambia is part of the Scaling Up Nutrition program, which focuses on bolstering nutrition in over 50 countries.  Scaling Up Nutrition also supports the First 1000 Most Critical Days program, making infant care a priority.

Another organization working in Zambia is Women’s Empowerment through Animal Traction (WEAT).  WEAT works with Heifer International and the World Food Programme to provide households with draft animals.  The focus is on providing women with a means to support their families.  The draft animals allow women to plant crops quickly and efficiently, while also supplying milk.  The offspring of these animals go to other families in the community, allowing more farmers to increase their outputs.

Action Against Hunger works specifically with families affected by HIV and AIDS.  The organization helps people take up activities that create income, such as raising rabbits or poultry.  It also educates people about HIV and AIDS.

Innovations for Poverty Action funded a study in 2012-2013 which gave loans of maize to farmers during the lean season.  The goal was to keep farmers from needing to seek additional employment on other farms.  The results showed that food consumption increased, casual labor decreased and there was evidence of an increase in local wages.  These positive signs led the study to expand in January 2014.  Now IPA will give 3,000 households the opportunity to receive loans of food and cash, and it will measure crop yields and nutrition at the end of two years.

In addition to all of these programs, Zambia has joined with other African nations to plead with their governments to invest more in agriculture.  The request is for an increase in effective agriculture investments of at least 10%, with a focus on support for small farmers, especially women.  Vice-president Guy Scott received the petition for Zambia.  In total, over two million African citizens have signed petitions in support of this legislation.

Monica Roth

Sources: World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger, Innovations for Poverty Action, Scaling up Nutrition, Africa Science News
Photo: Irish Aid