A World Food Programme (WFP) Hunger Map for 2020 which depicts the prevalence of undernourishment in the total population between 2017 and 2019 says 15–24,9% of the population in Botswana is undernourished. Undernutrition refers to insufficient intake of energy and nutrients to meet an individual’s needs to maintain good health.“The prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) is an estimate of the proportion of the population whose habitual food consumption is insufficient to provide the dietary energy levels that are required to maintain a normal, active and healthy life,” says the Hunger Map.
According to the Hunger Map, the prevalence of undernutrition measures progress towards Sustainable Development Goal Target 2.1 which aims to end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round by 2030.The worst countries in Africa are Lesotho, Chad, Liberia and Rwanda were over 35 percent of the population is undernourished. Other countries in Botswana’s category with 15-24,9% of their population undernourished are Malawi, Ethiopia, Gabon, Angola, Togo, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.“To reduce the inﬂuence of possible estimation errors in some of the underlying parameters, national estimates are reported as a three-year moving average,” says WFP Hunger Map.
The findings seem to affirm the findings of another report released recently entitled: The 2020 Global Nutrition Report Action on equity to end malnutrition which stated that Botswana has an undernutrition problem. The Nutrition Report highlighted that Botswana will not meet the 2025 global nutritional target of achieving “a 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted”, adding that Botswana will also not be able to reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5% by 2025.The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic is also expected to pose risks to the nutritional status and survival of young children in Botswana. Research suggests that malnutrition will surge because of declines in household incomes, changes in the availability and affordability of nutritious foods, and interruptions to health, nutrition, and social protection services.“The Covid-19 pandemic also risks becoming a nutrition crisis, as overburdened healthcare systems, disrupted food systems and income loss prevent children and women from accessing nutritious diets and essential nutrition services, including those for the early detection and treatment of child wasting,” says WFP.
Experts have also said that as the Covid-19 pandemic reaches countries such as Botswana with a high burden of child undernutrition, it is essential to include wasted children in the list of vulnerable groups to Covid-19.The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines malnutrition as deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions. One is ‘under-nutrition’—which 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). The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer).