Race to end malnutrition requires clean water, sanitation –WaterAid

• Says Nigeria has over 10 m

The race to end malnutrition requires clean water, good sanitation and good hygiene, WaterAid has said, while also noting that currently, 159 million children in the world are stunted as a result of malnutrition.

In its new report, ‘Caught Short’, WaterAid looks at stunting from malnutrition around the world and the links to low rates of access to clean water and good sanitation.

According to the report, 159 million children in the world are currently stunted as a result of malnutrition, with their cognitive and physical growth damaged irreversibly by their inability to obtain and absorb the nutrients they need. Some 50 per cent of malnutrition is linked to infections, worm infestations and diarrhoeal illnesses caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and a lack of hygiene including hand washing with soap.

It further revealed that Nigeria ranks second in the world for having the greatest number of children under five suffering from stunted growth. The record amount is about 10.3 million, or 33 per cent of children under five. It stated further that about 31 per cent of the population in Nigeria do not have access to clean water and 71 per cent do not have access to decent sanitation.

WaterAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Dr Michael Ojo, said: “The evidence is clear. Children’s health and future potential are compromised when they have no choice but to grow up without clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene practices. Even if children survive their dangerous early years, repeated bouts of diarrhoea early in life are likely to leave them stunted, leaving Nigeria and Africa as a whole, deprived of a new generation of great leaders, thinkers and athletes.

“World leaders have promised to end malnutrition and deliver water and sanitation to everyone, everywhere by 2030. They must keep their promises, one cannot be met without the other,” he said.

Meanwhile, the organisation also called for action as world leaders meet in Rio to open the Olympic Games. World leaders and prominent current and former Olympians will meet at the Second High Level Summit on Nutrition tomorrow ahead of the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to bring attention to the importance of good nutrition.