The Surging Rate of Malnutrition in the Eastern and Nile Basin Countries: Could Irrigation Be a Resolution?
For many years, it has been witnessed that the prevalence of malnutrition among many African nations is registered to have a higher magnitude. Countries of the Nile Basin and Eastern African are cases-in-point where there is a significant rate of malnutrition. In that regard, possible mitigating strategies have been forwarded and developed by different scholars of the Africa, the diaspora, and international community. In fact, many studies prove the existence of strong correlation between households’ nutritional status and access to irrigation, with evidences suggesting that the irrigation-nutrition linkages play out both through the income and production pathways in developing countries.
In reaction to the continental and regional catastrophe of malnutrition, a study has been conducted by the National Data Management Centre for Health at EPHI. The study, basically, was concerned with showing the prevalence of malnutrition in Eastern Africa and the Nile Basin countries, and it mainly uses data from the Global Burden of Disease. The aim of the study, hence, goes to giving insights on the significance of irrigation to reduce the high burden of malnutrition across the Eastern Africa and the Nile Basin Countries. On its way of showing some insights, the study brings three underpinning facts from different literatures. First, it mentions that the role of irrigation is crucial as it plays a role in generating income for a given community. Second, compared to other continents, Africa’s total cultivated land with irrigation is very small. That entails that the scale of irrigation is at its infant stage. However, there still are literatures which have estimated that by 2050 the number of dams will raise by 70%. In other words, this has an implication that there is a high potential of expanding irrigated agricultures with the aid of dams. Thirdly, literatures reviewed by the study have revealed that the impact of irrigation on communities and households would range from proper usage of time up to access to better nutrition.
While discussing the prevalence and death resulted from malnutrition, the study has made various comparisons among different countries. In relation to that, the prevalence of malnutrition in Somalia, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique were registered to have 29, 26, 25 and 25 per 100 people, respectively. On the contrary, the total number of deaths attributed to malnutrition across the countries was 19.22 % in the global deaths attributed to malnutrition. Hence, the death rates were high in Ethiopia followed by DRC and Tanzania. Meanwhile, the death rate resulted from malnutrition among children below the age of five has been higher in Somalia and South Sudan -1245 and 1126 per 100,000 population, respectively.
|Countries||Death rate, 2019|
|Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa||653|
Table: All-cause under 5-deaths per 100,000 attributable to malnutrition across EANB countries in 2019 (Source GBD 2019)
All in all, the study has urged that there need to be a planned and sustained effort to end malnutrition in the region. Besides, it has forwarded practical recommendation on the extensive use of dams for irrigation purposes. In line with that, it has acclaimed that there need to be evidences showing the correlation between dams, irrigation and nutrition.