Swaziland was the fourth African country to release “The Cost of Hunger in Africa” report, which stated that 3.1% of Swaziland’s GDP goes towards long-term hunger impacts. The government of Swaziland working with the World Food Program (WFP) estimated that the US $92 million per year was lost in worker productivity. Prince Hlangusemphi, the country’s minister of economic planning and development, said that eradicating hunger was a “tangible goal” that Swaziland was committed to achieving.
The study draws on data from 2009 that measures several different long-term effects of hunger. The first economic impact is stunting. Stunting results when children are denied nutrition and vitamins necessary for developing their bodies. Around 40% of Swaziland workers suffer from stunting. People who suffer from stunting are more likely to get sick, fair poorly in school, are less productive at work, and have shorter lives.
Treating hunger-related problems such as diarrhea, anemia, and respiratory infections have cost Swaziland around $6 million a year. The report estimated that 37 million working hours were lost in 2009 to hunger-related deaths, which cost the economy 1.4% of GDP.
The study reported that by reducing the rate of stunting from 40 percent to 10 percent by 2025, Swaziland could reduce its losses to the economy by $60 million per year.
“The Cost of Hunger in Africa” report is conducting research in a total of 12 African countries. Currently, four studies have been released including Ethiopia, Uganda, Egypt and Swaziland. Ethiopia reported a loss of 16.5% of its GDP to hunger, which is around the US $4.7 billion per year. Later this year the study will release reports on Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, and Rwanda.
– Catherine Ulrich
Sources: World Food Programme, African Union Commission