Kenya’s ‘hidden hunger’ situation chronic, study

Kenya is doing little to reduce hunger emerging among the top 50 countries where hidden hunger commonly referred to as nutrient deficiency, continues to ravage a large number of the population according to a new study.

This coming few months to the 2015 when countries across the world, Kenya included, committed to have achieved the Millennium Development Goals. Goal one targets eradication of extreme hunger and poverty.

The report, titled ‘Global Hunger Index: The Challenge of Hidden Hunger’ and prepared by the international Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) collected data from 120 countries using three indicators: The proportion of people who are undernourished, the proportion of children under five who are underweight, and the mortality rate of children under age five.

In Kenya, the report notes that while the country’s index has been improving over the years, the country is still miles away in addressing malnutrition, underweight and child mortality for children under the age of five.

Kenya’s situation is ranked as serious, two ranks ahead of the extremely alarming category. 
According to the UNICEF Kenya country programme report, a third of Kenya’s population, about 10 million, are chronically food insecure.

Acute and chronic under nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies primarily affect pregnant and lactating women and children under five years of age. Under nutrition remains a significant contributing factor to child deaths. 7 percent of Kenyan children under five are wasted while 16 percent are underweight.
Stunting rate has also been on the increase with 35 percent or 2.1 million children being stunted.

The report lays emphasis on this kind of hunger it calls hidden hunger especially because it is often ignored or overshadowed by hunger related to energy deficits. This hunger affects 2 billion people globally. “The shortage in essential vitamins and minerals can have long-term, irreversible health effects as well as socioeconomic consequences that can erode a person’s well-being and development. By affecting people’s productivity, it can also take a toll on countries’ economies. Poor diet, disease, impaired absorption, and increased micronutrient needs during certain life stages, such as pregnancy, lactation, and infancy, are among the causes of hidden hunger, which may “invisibly” affect the health and development of a population,” the report said.

Countries classified as critical in hunger included Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Comoro , Chad and Ethiopia. The top countries in the developing world included Mauritius, Thailand, Albania, Colombia, China and Malaysia.