As the cost of food continues to steadily increase, the consumer purchasing power has also gone down pushing households closer to or below poverty lines. Although the full implications of the food and fuel increases remain under investigated in Botswana, some experts say this could have a great impact on nutrition.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Dietician, Lebogang Kopela said there could be dire nutritional consequences, especially on children, unless there are concerted efforts by the government to increase nutrition resilience against food prices.
“Although a decrease in dietary quality and quantity are the most immediate effect of high food prices on nutrition, there is great possibility that at household level, child growth and cognitive development may be compromised,” she says.
In the 2020 Global Nutrition Report Action on equity to end malnutrition which assessed 194 countries from across the globe to determine their progress towards meeting eight 2025 global nutrition targets, Botswana was listed among 14 countries that will not meet even one nutritional target.
The 2025 global nutritional targets are: 1. achieve a 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age, 2. achieve a 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted, 3. achieve a 30% reduction in low birth weight; 4. ensure that there is no increase in childhood overweight; 5. increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%; 6. reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%, 7. Reduce childhood overweight, adult obesity and 8. Reduce adult diabetes.
Kopela says the prevalence of stunting, underweight and other forms of malnutrition are likely to increase and this is a threat to sustainable development goals which will be assessed in 2030.
“Households will struggle in the short to medium term to access nutritionally adequate food. This poses great challenges to household food security,” she says.
As recommendation to mitigate the effects of soaring food prices, she says there is need for safety nets and community-based nutrition programmes.