KABUL, according to the latest data from the government and the World Bank.
Fifty-four percent of Afghan children under five are chronically malnourished and 34 percent are underweight, says the report on Poverty and Food Security in Afghanistan: Analysis based on the National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment of 2007/08.
Almost three quarters of them – around 72 percent – suffer from key micro-nutrient deficiencies, such as of iron and iodine,” adds the study, jointly conducted by the Ministry of Economy and the World Bank.
Highlighting provincial differences and the impact of rising prices on key security measures, the report links the poor nutritional outcomes to the state of food security in the country. More than a quarter of the Afghan population cannot meet their minimum calorie requirements.
“They consume less than 2,100 calories per day. Twenty percent of the population consumes a diet that lacks adequate diversity, thus affecting their intake of micro-nutrients. The problem of food insecurity is compounded in the lean season – during spring, for example – when 33 percent of the population suffers from calorie deficiencies and 24 percent from a poor diet.”
Minister of Economy Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal said: “It is shocking to learn that children are amongst the most vulnerable segment of the Afghan population, and their lives that could be saved are at risk. There is, therefore, a dire need to scale up the ongoing interventions that provide a safety net to the people…”
Food insecurity looks more pronounced in the rural areas where about 80 percent of Afghanistan’s population resides. For example, calorie deficiency affects 30 percent of the rural population compared to 24 percent in urban areas.
Josephine Bassinette, World Bank’s acting country director, was quoted as saying: “Because of the ongoing conflict, foreign assistance has disproportionally gone to the provinces where concentration of troops and fighting has been heaviest such as Kandahar and Helmand.”
The fourth in a series of studies that form part of the World Bank’s programmatic approach to poverty assessment, the report has been prepared jointly by the Directorate General of Policy and ANDS Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of Economy and the World Bank.
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