Malawi nutritional poverty deepening – Centre for Social Concern

The Roman Catholic body called Centre for Social Concern (CFSC),   that come up with monthly surveys of cost of living in Malawi has said  there is serious failure by most households to meet key nutritional requirements, a development that is symptomatic of Malawi’s deepening economic malaise.

CFSC has said in a statement of their fourth quarter Rural Basic Needs Basket (Rural BNB) THAT over 76% of households…failed to meet the cost of essential non-food items.”

It says: “Although most households in rural Malawi produce their own food…those rural areas are not only nutritionally poor but also income impoverished – a fact reflected by their failure to meet the cost of essential non food items like bathing soap, among others.”

Malawi Kwacha

The CfSC Rural Basic Needs Basket is a quarterly survey that measures nutritional poverty and social service delivery in selected rural districts of Malawi that include Chikwawa, Lilongwe rural, Zomba rural and Dedza.

Malawians suffering

“That most Malawians are suffering from the effects of income and nutritional poverty in the face of the ensuing economic downturn is not an overstatement.

“Since the Malawi economy started to show signs of a serious slowdown, a high percentage of struggling households have plunged into extreme poverty and as a consequence their household incomes are inadequate to meet the cost of basic food and essential non-food items. This is clear testimony of the depth of poverty in the country,” CfSC said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended nutritional intake for a rural setting is 2400 kilocalorie but the average energy intake in this quarter shows that most households are consuming approximately 1892 kilocalories, according to CfSC.

“Such as deficient presents multiple developmental challenges especially to growing children – with the prospects of having a negative lifelong impact,” CfSC said.

The National Statistical Office (NSO) Integrated Household Survey report (HIS, 2010-2012) also reveals that 30.6% of 6 to 59 months old children in Malawi are underweight.

“Indeed, nutritional poverty continues to be reflected by the unacceptably high chronic malnutrition rates currently standing at a national average of 1% (severe) and 11.4% (moderate) for 6 to 59 months old children being stunted,” said CfSC.

CfSC reasserts the need to see nutritional and income poverty being actively addressed especially in rural communities through the more regular collection of information on rural poverty and its timely dissemination to relevant stakeholders.

“Although policy pronouncements are important as a starting point for sustainable responses, government should go beyond policy prescriptions to implementation of strategies and programmes,” the body said.

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