The cost of child undernutrition to the Kenya’s economy is 373.9 billion shillings, which represents a loss of 6.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at 2014, this is according to a study.
The study dubbed “ Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) – Kenya chapter touches directly on three sectors of the economy namely Health, Education and Labor productivity and using 2014 as a reference period shows that Hunger is one of the root causes of malnutrition in Kenya as well as Africa with the negative impact on children under five years.
The report says that despite Kenya having made progress in reducing stunting in children from a high of 33 percent in 1994 to 26 percent in 2014, stunting rates are still high since it affects 1 in every four children under 5 years.
In a speech read by the Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki, on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta, during the release of the Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) Kenya Study report on Thursday, the President said scale up and diverse financing for good nutrition for a healthy and productive nation should be a priority to address the challenges associated with malnutrition.
He therefore said there is need to work together and put in place a comprehensive mechanism to address challenges of child undernutrition.
He also called for strengthening of existing public private partnership in the implementation of the policy recommendations from the study
The President noted that the challenges associated with malnutrition have led to the need for focus and emphasis on nutrition as part of the development effort in the World.
“Recognizing that Children are the greatest asset of our Nation, My Government is committed to ending child undernutrition,” he said.
Child undernutrition and in particular stunting in children has a negative impact on productivity at a much later stage in life. Kenya has reduced stunting in children from a high of 33% in 1994 to 26% in 2014.
“As a Government, we are committed to reducing the stunting rates to 14.5% by 2030,” the President said and thanked all the development partners, who have walked with the government on the journey of ensuring that children have a brighter tomorrow.
Speaking during the release of the report, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Amb. Ukur Yatani who was represented by Albert Mwenda, Director General, Budget, Fiscal and Economic Affairs said hunger is unacceptable and must be eradicated especially in Africa.
“In 2018, the number of people who were hungry globally stood at 821.6 Million, which implies that one person in nine people, suffers from hunger. Approximately 31 percent of the World hungry people come from Africa, “he noted..
Based on the findings, the CS said that COHA Kenya National Implementation Team will strengthen the implementation of the nutrition component within the community health strategy, disseminate and implement comprehensive school health and nutrition programme and also integrate nutrition as targeting component in social protection programmes for the highly vulnerable populations.
The Council of Governors (CoG) representative, Transzoia CEC Mary Nzomo said, the report will be useful for the national and county planning and budgeting process as well as offer important source of data in the mid -term review of the county integrated development plans and their implementation and the big four agenda of 100 percent food and nutrition security.
The COHA study estimates the social and economic impact of child undernutrition and provides evidence based analysis on cost of hunger geared towards implementing strategies that eradicate child undernutrition in the country.