Millions of children under five stunted, Unicef report shows
Two million children under the age of five in Kenya have stunted growth, limiting their overall mental and physical development, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
This represents more than 25 per cent of all children under the age of five. Additionally, 11 per cent of all children are underweight, with four per cent wasted.
Stunting is the most frequent form of under-nutrition among young children.
Wasting and severe wasting are linked to increased and preventable deaths among young children.
Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. It often indicates recent and severe weight loss, although it can also persist for a long time.
The severity of the problem shows differences across the countries with stunting as high a four per cent in Kitui and West Pokot counties.
According to the report, wasting ranges from one per cent in some areas of Kenya, to over 20 per cent in many arid and semi-arid lands counties.
Among the key drivers of childhood under-nutrition include disease and poor diets, especially between six and 23 months.
This is due to food insecurity, insufficient care practices and harmful social norms, according to the report.
In conjunction with the Ministry of Health, Unicef Kenya counselled 1.6 million caregivers on best practices for feeding infants and young children to boost education on nutrition.
The global body also provided iron supplements and folic acid to over 2.9 million women of reproductive age.
Globally, 149.2 million children under the age of five years of age were stunted, 45.4 million wasted, and 38.9 million overweight, according to a joint 2020 report by Unicef, WHO and the World Bank.
The number of children with stunting is declining in all regions except Africa.