Gambia’s economy is losing $83 million a year due to the effects of child undernutrition, according to a new study released in Banjul yesterday.
The loss is about 5.1 per cent of the country’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to a study by the multi-agency Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) increased healthcare costs, additional burdens to the education system and reduced workforce productivity are the ways through which losses incurred each year.
“It is alarming that we are losing 5.1 per cent of our National GDP annually because of the consequences of child undernutrition on school performance, health and productivity,” said H.E. Dr Isatou Touray, the Vice President of Gambia.
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“The Government of Gambia is committed to working with all partners through the NDP to build a prosperous nation with a healthy and well-developed human resource,” she said during the launch of the study.
The study was undertaken by the Government of Gambia in collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the African Union Commission (AUC) and it’s Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the European Union (EU), the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
“The launch of the COHA study today is another manifestation of UN delivering as one. We see an example of joint collaboration by the UN family to scale up support to the Government and accelerate Sustainable Development Goals implementation in the last decade,” said UN Resident Coordinator Serafine Wakana.
Malnutrition rates have declined and the country is on target to meet the government’s 2021 National Development Programme’s nutrition target of reducing stunting to 12.5 per cent, wasting to 5 per cent, and underweight to 8.5 per cent.
According to COHA findings, by 2030 if the prevalence of stunting (low growth for age) among children is reduced to 9.6 per cent and if underweight is reduced to 6 per cent, Gambia will save up to $ 104 million.
“Nutrition is the bedrock to a better, healthier and wealthier life, and investment in this sector is a necessary step towards sustainable development,” said Wanja Kaaria, WFP Representative and Country Director in the Gambia.