In a bid to end skyrocketing malnutrition and abject poverty in communities, Civil Society Organisations ( CSOs ) have teamed up to officially launch five years programme to end hunger and malnutrition in Uganda dubbed Right to grow.
The consortium of CSOs include The Hunger Project International, World Vision, Action against Hunger, Food Rights Alliance, Nutrition Society of Uganda, Community Integrated Development Initiative and Save the Children.
Hunger Project International Regional Director Dr Daise Kyomugasho said, ”
Right to grow dream is for every child to be able to reach full potential by 2030. The programme aims at ending all forms of malnutrition including achieving 2025 internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting on children under five years of age.
The programme also targets nutrition needs for adolescent girls, pregnant mothers and elderly,”
The Deputy Prime minister in charge of General duties Justine Lumumba officiating at the launch event under the theme :fostering amulet stakeholder involvement and investment in harnessing the growth of every child to reach their potential in the face of covid pandemic and beyond Lumumba pledged government commitment to end children against hunger and malnutrition through government poverty alleviation programmes.
Dr Kyomugasho noted that although Uganda experiences substantial reduction in the prevalence of stunting from 45 % in 2000 to 29% in 2016 never the less under nutrition in all its forms continues to be a development challenge.
“The causes are multidimensional, poor feeding and childcare practices, poverty and shortages of nutritious and diversified foods, inadequate adaptation to climate change risks, poor sanitation and hygiene practices are still rampant in Uganda,”she stressed.
According to World Bank collection of development indicators, malnutrition threatens to destroy a generation of children in Uganda.
” The report notes that more than one third of all young children – 2.4 million – are stunted. The damage caused by stunting is irreversible. Half of children under five and one quarter of child-bearing-age women are anemic. The problem persists despite a drop in stunting and anemia rates in recent years zainah,”the report reads.
The report further shows that whether poor or wealthy, children are malnourished for similar reasons.
“Women tend to get pregnant when young and have low birth-weight babies, which predisposes children to malnutrition. Repeated childhood infections such as diarrhoea and low breastfeeding rates also lead to wasting and stunting. Families are either too poor, or do not know how, to give their children a healthy diet, “the report adds.
Between 2013 and 2015, it is estimated that more than 500,000 young Ugandan children died. Of these deaths, nearly half were associated with under-nutrition. Under-nutrition is responsible for four in 10 deaths of children under five. The 2012 study, Cost of Hunger in Uganda, estimated the health cost of children’s under-nutrition-related illnesses (for those under five) to be more than UGX 525 billion, most of which was used for treating under-nutrition and associated illnesses. It is also estimated that under-nutrition costs Uganda 1.8 trillion UGX, an equivalent of 5.6 per cent of its GDP annually.
Food Rights Alliance Executive Director Agnes Kirabo applauded the funders saying the right to grow programme is a conviction that many stakeholders are working to recognize the cist of action to end hunger and malnutrition.
“Neglecting hunger and malnutrition is neglecting the people and national development. Itis immoral to have children malnourished and millions going hungry in a country of plenty,” Kirabo said.
She however noted that the combined effects of malnutrition on health care costs and education due to grade repetition and reduction in productivity traps families in a vicious cycle of poverty.
It is estimated that the total cost of child under-nutrition in Uganda is equivalent to a staggering 5.6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product: UGX 1.86 trillion (US$ 899 million).
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