Children will suffer most from the looming hunger situation in the country.
According to the Civil Society Organisation Scaling-Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN) the hunger will impact children’s lives including hampering brain maturity which may cause irreversible damage and retard human development.
CSO-SUN national coordinator William Chilufya said adequate nutrition has the greatest impact on saving lives, developing a child’s brain and its physical capacity which mitigate the risk of chronic diseases in later life.
Mr. Chilufya said the compromised 2012/13 agriculture season has put children and pregnant women at risk of malnutrition which could affect their growth and development.
“Nutrition for mothers and children is a must if we are to successfully prevent malnutrition. If the current situation continues, Zambia will end up having a malnourished population which will lead to increased mortality and morbidity and hence reduced economic output and increased healthcare spending,” he said.
He explained that government should increase financial incentives through the engagement of various sectors to tackle the high malnutrition levels and the imminent hunger situation in the country.
He said government support for crop diversification was an effective method of fighting the threats of looming hunger as well as engagement of other stakeholders in enhancing nutrition in the country.
He urged government to support flour fortification as part of promoting production of nutritious foods and encourage availability of other highly nutritious traditional foods.
“It is important that government engages the private sector as key stakeholders in reducing under nutrition in the country.
“We urge the government to provide financial incentives to engage the private sector to tackle malnutrition. We support this policy and we further urge government to exempt or zero rate nutritious food (a range of products that could be used to prevent stunting) traditionally purchased by poor individuals, especially poor women,” he said.
He charged that currently, Zambia was one of the countries with chronic malnutrition with nearly one in every two children under five (46 per cent) stunted.
“It is critical therefore that government improves the delivery of a diversified Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), this will reduce hunger and improve on the nutrition status of Zambian mothers and Children,” Mr. Chilufya said.
Mr. Chilufya noted that there would be no justice until every child in every community was allowed to grow up well-nourished and reach their full potential from inception, “this is because during the critical 1,000 days “window of opportunity,” from conception until a child’s second birthday, adequate nutrition has the greatest impact on saving lives, developing a child’s brain and physical capacity.”
There has been growing concerns of poor agricultural yields this year following poor input distribution, inadequate rains and the armyworms infestation that attacked farmers in the early states of the crop.