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The Cost of Hunger in Africa: Swaziland 2013

Author: WFP; African Union

The Cost of Hunger in Africa: Swaziland 2013
The Cost of Hunger in Africa study estimates the social and economic impacts of child undernutrition and provides evidence supporting investments in human capital for sustainable development in African countries. Swaziland loses 3.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), or some US $92 million annually, from the long-term impact of chronic childhood hunger. Some 270,000 adults, or more than 40 percent of the labour force, suffer from physical stunting as a result of chronic malnutrition in early childhood. The study documents how high stunting rates result in lower work productivity, higher national health costs, missed work hours due to illness, and lower rates of educational attainment.

Led by the African Union Commission (AUC), and implemented by its Member States, the COHA study is supported by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The COHA study is a continental initiative aimed at estimating the social and economic impacts of child undernutrition in Africa focusing on the health, education and labor sectors. It provides governments and partners with key actionable and time-bound priority recommendations to improve the lives of children across the continent. The findings of the study provide sound evidence to inform policy dialogues and increase advocacy around the importance of preventing child undernutrition.

So far, twenty-one (21) countries have completed the study- Burkina Faso, Chad, DRC, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia (The), Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

According to the findings of these studies: a) 8 to 44% of all child mortality is associated with undernutrition; b) between 1 to 18% of all school repetitions are associated with stunting; c) stunted children achieve 0.2 to 3.6 years less in school education; d) child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced national workforces by 1 to 13.7 %; and e) 40 to 67% of the working age population suffered from stunting as children.

The total estimated yearly cost of undernutrition in these countries, in terms of GDP, varies from 2% (for Egypt) to 17% (for Ethiopia). Improving the nutritional status of children is a priority that needs urgent policy attention to accelerate socio-economic progress and development in Africa.