Category Archives: malnutrition

5 Organizations to Support During South Sudan’s Famine

In February the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan. What is most disheartening about this most recent famine in the world’s youngest country is it’s largely man-made. Constant infighting among South Sudanese opposition forces and the government makes growing crops nearly impossible. And, the instability in the country continues to drive up food costs. 100,000 people are directly suffering from famine, and another 4.9 million are living in extremely food insecure situations according to the United Nations. One million children in South Sudan are malnourished.

In April, Congress unanimously called upon the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID)  in partnership with the World Food Program to continue food aid to the millions affected by the famine. Congress, however, did not appropriate new relief funding to the region keeping in step with the Trump administration’s continued cuts in foreign aid.

The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said last week that if nothing is done, 20 million people could starve to death within the next six months in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria combined.

“Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades,” said the UN FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

While the problem is monumental there has been a budget put aside for famine relief by the international aid community. Governments will also have to do their part to help stabilize the region including the United States, even though the task of some in Congress to attach new funding to the cause seems well-intentioned, but probably a pipe dream for now.  There are organizations that you can support with your own donations to support famine relief.

There are organizations that you can support with your own donations. Here are five I recommend because I have seen their work in the field and have always remained impressed by their infrastructure and aid relief. Links go directly to donation pages.

  1. Save the Children
  2. Oxfam America
  3. World Vision USA
  4. World Food Program
  5. UNICEF USA

UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis

Maternal Malnutrition Affects Future Generations: Kenya Must Break the Cycle

By Elizabeth Echoka, Kenya Medical Research Institute and Lydia Kaduka, Kenya Medical Research Institute

Nutrition of women before and during pregnancy and when breastfeeding is critical in determining the health and survival of the mother and of her unborn baby.

Undernourished pregnant women have higher reproductive risks. They are more likely to experience obstructed labour, or to die during or after childbirth. Poor nutrition in pregnancy also results in babies growing poorly in the womb and being born underweight and susceptible to diseases. These mothers also invariably produce low quality breast milk.

Maternal malnutrition has inter-generational consequences because it is cyclical. Poor nutrition in pregnancy is linked to undernourishment in-utero which results in low birth weight, pre-maturity, and low nutrient stores in infants. These babies end up stunted and, in turn, give birth to low birth weight babies. Optimal maternal nutrition is therefore vital to break this inter-generational cycle.

In Kenya, women’s nutritional needs during pregnancy has not received much attention. This has exposed a gap in efforts to improve maternal and child health.

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What’s Driving sub-Saharan Africa’s Malnutrition Problem?

Jane Battersby, University of Cape Town

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of food insecurity in the world. An estimated 220 million people lack adequate nutrition. The nature of the problem is shifting rapidly, with overweight status and obesity emerging as new forms of food insecurity while malnutrition persists. But continental policy responses do not address this changing reality.

Food insecurity is the outcome of being too poor to grow or buy food. But it’s not just any food. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s definition, people need:

… sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

Current policy focuses on alleviating undernutrition through increased production and access to food. It does not focus on the systemic issues that inform the food choices people make. This may result in worsening food insecurity in the region.

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Malnutrition, stunting and the importance of a child’s first 1000 days

Rihlat Said Mohamed, University of the Witwatersrand

The first 1000 days of a child’s life – from the time they are conceived until they turn two – is an important period for the development of both the fetus and the infant. It sets up the foundation for the child’s growth, brain development and general health.

Poor fetal growth during pregnancy results in children being born with a lower birth weight and a greater tendency to be stunted. Stunting is the failure to grow optimally and is first picked up in children who are shorter for their age group when they are two.

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