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Malnutrition

After 2 days of planning our campaign I finally get a chance to get out of the office. I pop round to a local market at Pampe near Abuja with colleagues Charity and Jean Michel and we informally chat to people about the impact of the global downturn. We spoke to a young woman called Beauty. She said that the price of food and transport has gone up. She said that people don’t have such a balanced diet as they can’t afford it – even here, near Abuja. She also told me that she had a brother in London who used to send her money but now he doesn’t as he feels the downturn there more there than she does. He has a job but the bills have increased and he can’t send money. As a 18 year old she was also concerned that she can now only afford to do her hair monthly rather than weekly!

We spoke to Martina, a market trader and mother of a 3 year old child. She said “I have tried to make changes and reduced the quantity of food to cope”. Her friend is now saying her children are eating twice rather than 3 times a day. Martina was clear that it is most important that a child has food.

Tackling malnutrition is crucial to tackling child mortality. Today, there is a conference in Abuja to look at the gap between knowledge and action to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Frank Onyezili of UNICEF Nigeria presented a paper on malnutrition. His paper points out that 53 percent of under five mortality in Nigeria can be attributed to malnutrition.  He also identifies what else can be done to tackle this situation.

It is a sad fact that adults who were malnourished as children earn less and are more likely to go on to have children who are also malnourished. The loss of adult yearly income attributed to stunting is 22%. It is also estimated that without undernutrition, the GDP of a developing country could increase by 41% in ten years.

On the same day that President Obama proposed a trillion dollar bail out plan,  the price of cray fish at Pampe market is now 50 Naira – up from N20 since christmas. The price of rice has gone up N250 per measure, Beans are up from N140 to N200 and Beauty’s bus journey now costs her N80 rather than N50.

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