Survey: Quarter Nigerian children go a day without food; same in India

February 17th, 2012

Malnutrition in Nigeria {MSF}

NewsRescue- Results from a survey conducted by Save the Children, an international NGO, reveal that 27% of Nigerian children sometimes go an entire day without food. India also had a similar figures, with 24% of respondents reporting not being able to feed their children for an entire day. The surveys were conducted in India, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Peru and Pakistan. These five countries were chosen because they are home to half of the worlds malnourished children.

The survey was conducted with face-to-face interviews in Nigeria, in main languages of English, Hausa, Igbo and pidgin, from December 19 to 27, 2011.

“The majority of parents in Nigeria (58%) say that their children complain about not having enough food to eat—a rate much higher than any of the other countries surveyed. Almost two thirds (61%) of families in Nigeria say they eat one staple food, such as maize, rice, or bread, and nothing else for at least a week. Almost half of India and Peru say the same (46% each).” The survey stated.

According to the 24 page report in which 1,000 rural and urban pockets were sampled, both India and Nigeria are emerging economies that are not yet able to deliver the benefits of growth to their peoples. In both countries, there are a large number of children whose growth has been stunted by malnutrition and hunger. The report blamed political will for India’s problems,- “India has various social protection programmes in place, they are not focused on improving nutrition for infants and children and are not reaching a number of the most excluded and marginalised communities.”

The executive director of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth, said: “The world has made dramatic progress in reducing child deaths, down from 12 to 7.6 million, but this momentum will stall if we fail to tackle malnutrition.”

Our January article {There is a GLOBAL FAMINE } described a current global famine, not being publicized, and we detailed the factors responsible for this famine and what could be done to stem it. The report by Save the Children highlighted some of these factors, which include, diversion of farmland for food crops to cash crops due to world bank and SAP policies in the ‘developing’ nations, extreme weather conditions, speculative trading of food commodities and the current global financial crisis, as being responsible for the soaring of food prices globally and the epic children malnutrition in the sampled nations.

Nigerians surveyed with a 95% total agreement response, were by far the most to describe rising food prices as their most significant concern last year, Bangladesh followed, and the other countries surveyed gave similar complaints. The staples most consumed in hard times, were Gari in Nigeria and Rice in Bangladesh.

“Nearly 66 percent respondents in India said rising food prices have been a pressing concern in 2011, while nearly 17 percent parents said their children skipped school to go to work and pay for food…. More than a quarter of people in India (27 percent) report that they can never afford to buy staple foods such as meat, milk, or vegetables for their families every week,” the report further said.

Nigeria- 30% and Peru followed with 17% respondents answering that they had, had their children skip school to help earn money for food.

Describing malnutrition as a silent killer, which takes over 2 million lives a year, with over 300 children dying of chronic malnutrition every hour, the report put an estimated 15 billion children at risk over the next 15 years.

In the countries surveyed, the report said “..the findings indicate that the benefits of this economic growth have not been felt across all sections of society. Significant proportions in all countries have been impacted by the rise in food prices, and its effects appear to be most concentrated among low-income and low-educated groups and those with large families.”

Wealth Poverty {NVS}

Nigeria and India, both powerful emerging economies are commonly criticized for having lackadaisical government institutions. Nigeria tops world ratings for government corruption, and over 14 years of democracy has failed significantly improve the HDI (Human Development Index) and narrow the economic gap between the rich-connected few and the teeming poor masses. Radical bombings in the Northern areas, which have the highest poverty levels, about 70-90%, compared to the 50% National average, have recently put Nigeria on the global terror map.

Malnutrition has been a chronic problem in Nigeria, according to Doctors without borders in 2005, reporting on Borno, Maiduguri, not coincidentally the source of much radical outbursts:  “The child’s weight falls below 70 percent of what is normal. This is quite alarming and particularly unacceptable in conflict-free Borno state. In the area where we work right now we expect up to 900 severely malnourished children who might die if they don’t get medical care and nutritional support. And this number only represents a small part of Borno state.”

Describing why so many were malnourished: “The reasons are multifaceted. There are several chronic factors such as mainly young mothers who stop breastfeeding too early and are unable to give their babies a healthy, varied diet. Chronic food insecurity is another problem that not only affects northern Nigeria but a sub-Saharan zone spanning from Mauritania to Niger and Sudan to Ethiopia. Food stocks are depleted because rains have been patchy for years and last year locust swarms devastated many crops.”

Rising food prices and the current global famine has been described as the single most important, root cause of riots all over the world, from the Middle East Arab Spring riots, which toppled several governments, to the ‘Robin-hood‘ riots in the UK, and the ‘Occupy‘ protests still ongoing in North America and much of Europe. Many European governments have also been dismissed or are being dismissed, including governments of Greece and Italy.

Poor global international monetary policies and corporate greed with speculative trading are some of the major modifiable factors that deserve immediate attention to stem the global food price hike.

Related: NewsRescue- BBC: Americas famine riots turn deadly