Malnutrition In Africa
Why Malnutrition in Africa is Such a Problem
Why has malnutrition in Africa become such an epidemic? With billions of dollars in aid having been donated to African countries, why are people still dying of hunger at such a staggering rate?
How Malnutrition Works
Malnutrition occurs when so little or such low quality food is consumed on a regular basis so that nutrient levels in the body become severely depleted. While millions die each year from malnutrition in Africa, many victims are still living. Slowly starving, these sufferers of inadequate diet experience a lifetime of disease and from deficits that
A major reason that the problem of malnutrition in Africa is so out of control is overpopulation. The birth rate has accelerated over the last few decades in some of the poorest African states. Coupled with the fact that birth control and sex education are often nonexistent in these areas, this is a recipe for dangerous overpopulation.
Starvation becomes an unfortunate cycle for people in these places. What little food there is must be divided among more and more people. As food is further divided, each individual person receives less and less nutrition. This makes for a community of people who are weak and incapable of performing the tasks that would be necessary to generate a source of food, like farming. Unable to work, travel, or otherwise take steps to correct the problem, these people unwittingly perpetuate the cycle of poverty and hunger.
Children in these impoverished areas are thrust into the cycle of starvation the moment they are born. Mothers often die at birth due to extreme iron deficiency, and so may times these children are orphaned from the time they are born.
These infants come into the world already severely lacking in vital nutrients. This usually causes permanent defects. Aside from this, most toddlers in impoverished African states are chronically ill, suffering coughs, nausea, diarrhea, and a whole host of other maladies.
Even in areas where schools are available, children are often so malnourished that they can hardly stay awake – much less pay attention and retain knowledge. Sadly, many African children suffer from learning disorders and neurological problems that severely inhibit their ability to learn.
Along with the problems of overpopulation and the lack of adequate sex education, other things have added to the overall problem of malnutrition in Africa.
- AIDS, malaria, and other serious illnesses that cause wasting and loss of appetite
- Natural disasters
- Lack of agricultural technology
- Weak or corrupt governmental agencies
- Lack of capital
Creating Real Change
Aid comes in the form of temporarily relief, such as food rations or urgent care clinics. While these things are vital components of helping to correct the problem, a truly sustainable solution would be to enable these people to become self-sufficient. Volunteer doctors only have the resources to treat immediate symptoms, but not cure root causes and rations run out and spoil.
Micro-loans, such as those established in rural Bangladesh by Nobel peace prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, would be a hugely helpful. If a small loan was available for a community to procure seeds, fertilizer, and the necessary equipment, they could begin to grow their own crops. In some areas, micro loan money would be better used in tapping for water, or raising livestock. Until a way is made for the people of poverty stricken African states to provide for themselves, there will never be a lasting solution to the problem.
All of these factors and many others combine to make the problem of malnutrition in Africa one that is complex, frustrating, and not at all easy to resolve.