We know there is a human cost when children do not have proper nutrition, but a new study attempts to put a dollar figure on the economic cost as well. Excerpts from All Africa:
Child undernutrition costs African nations up to 16.5 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP), according to a series of reports looking at social and economic consequences of child undernourishment in 12 African countries.
The first reports from the Cost of Hunger in Africa study of 12 countries estimate that Egypt has 1.9 per cent cut from its GDP because not all of its children get enough to eat, while Uganda loses 5.6 per cent and Ethiopia a staggering 16.5 per cent.
The three reports were launched in the respective countries in June, and a study on Swaziland is due to be published later this month or in August.
“Work is in progress in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda. Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya and Mauritania will follow,” Rachel Quint, a consultant at the UN’s World Food Programme and a member of the Cost of Hunger in Africa regional team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, tells SciDev.Net.
The overall study, led by the African Union, involves several local and international institutions including the World Food Programme, the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa and Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, national statistical agencies and several ministries….
Undernourished children are those who weigh too little for their age or are of a low height for their age, or stunted, a condition that causes long-term physical impairments. They are at higher risk of anaemia, various infections and death, the reports explain.
And such children are more likely to need to repeat school classes or to quit education altogether, the reports say. As adults, because of their reduced physical capacity and educational attainment, they earn less in both manual and non-manual jobs, the reports add….
For example, the reports estimate that more than seven per cent of school repetitions in Uganda are attributable to undernutrition, costing US$9.5 million a year. In Ethiopia, the mortality rate due to child malnourishment has reduced the workforce by eight per cent.