Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Proportion of undernourished in Botswana plateaued out since 2000

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) set the goal to eradicate hunger and malnutrition and to ensure nutritious food for all (Sustainable Development Goal 2) by 2030. However, recent reports show that progress in reducing malnutrition in Botswana stalled and there has not been any significant improvement or changes since the year 2000.

The latest 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI) shows that while Botswana’s global hunger index score trend has been steadily declining for the last two decades from 28.2 in 2000, to 27.3 in 2006, to 22.4 in 2012 and then 22.6 in 2020, the same cannot be said of the proportion of undernourished. In clear cut terms, the Index states that the proportion of undernourished in Botswana ’’plateaued with an index score’’ of 23.2 in 2000, 24.3 in 2006, 23.3 in 2012 and then 24.1 in 2020. The index, which is now in its 14th year, ranks countries based on four key indicators: Undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.

Despite the regression in the proportion of undernourished in Botswana since 2000, the country seems to have made reasonable progress in decreasing Under-five mortality with a score of 8.7 in 2000, 6.6 in 2006, 4.6 in 2012 and then 3.6 in 2020.

According to the World Health Organisation under-nutrition includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).

Earlier, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) used the prevalence of undernourishment as the main indicator of hunger, with severe insecurity as a complementary indicator. The Global Hunger Index also states that Botswana with a score of 22.6, has a level of hunger that is categorised as ’’serious’’. The index scores countries on a 100-point ‘severity scale’, where zero is the best score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. In the Index, Botswana ranks 80th out of the 107 countries. With a score of 44.7, Chad is ranked highest among the countries considered to have an ’’alarming hunger’’ problem.

Speaking to this publication, Grain and cereal researcher, Lakayana Sepapi, said Botswana should take a leaf out of Nepal’s book and replicate its model. ’’In the 1990s, Nepal had one of the highest malnutrition rates but through political will, they managed to significantly reduce this by implementing a multi-sectoral nutrition program,” says Sepapi.

Although the Index does not account for the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which may worsen hunger and under-nutrition, the Index states that ’’the world is not on track to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal – known as Zero Hunger by 2030.”

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and national levels. The GHI is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger, provide a means to compare the levels of hunger between countries and regions, and call attention to the areas of the world in greatest need of additional resources to eliminate hunger.

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