Date Published: 5 July 2018

Grave concerns about child undernutrition in Mali

The World Food Programme (WFP) as highlighted the need to increase efforts to end the distress and economic consequences of child undernutrition (more info at Undernutrition Diseases and What is Malnutrition?) in the west African country of Mali1.

According to a recent study2 resulting in the report "Africa Cost of Hunger"3 the effects of child undernutrition cost the economy of Mali an estimated 265.5 billion West African CFA francs4 during 2013, an amount currently equivalent to approx. US$470 million. Based on an estimated figure of US$13.25 billion for the GDP of Mali in 20135, this cost amounts to approx. 3.5% of the country's GDP.

The study estimated the approx. economic burden of child undernutrition by totalling various expenses including increased healthcare costs, additional burdens on the education system and, over a longer-term, reduced workforce productivity. Specific statistics contained in the report include:

  • 47% of the adult population in Mali were affected by stunting as children
  • 34% of infant mortality cases in Mali are associated with undernutrition
  • 21% of cases of school grade repetition are due to stunting

The authors of the report3 suggest that better nutrition be made a national priority in Mali and therefore be included in national plans. Improved resourcing of such plans to improve child nutrition has also been recommended.

Boubou Cissé, Mali's Minister of Economy and Finance, has also called for increased commitment to achieve the nutrition targets contained in the global 2030 Agenda and Africa Agenda 2063. The WFP1 has quoted his statement that:

"These results demonstrate the urgency for Mali to mobilize more efforts to significantly reduce child malnutrition in order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

Boubou Cissé, Minister of Economy and Finance, Mali.

Several non-governmental organizations (NGO)s, such as the WFP, agree with the need for and would like to support efforts to reduce child malnutrition, including in Mali:

" Malnutrition is an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals," said Silvia Caruso, WFP Director and Representative in Mali.
" Reducing rates of malnutrition in general and stunting in particular is no longer a choice, but an imperative to finally see Africa rid of malnutrition and all the scourges associated with it, understanding that it is economically profitable to invest in fighting it," she concluded.

According to the WFP1, so far "Cost of Hunger in Africa" studies have been made in 12 countries. The estimated impact of child malnutrition has been found to vary from country to country in the range 1.9% to 16.5% of the GDP of the country.

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