TANZANIA now has 3,061,000 children who are stunted ranking it the 10th country with the greatest number of stunted children, according to a recent survey.
The new survey that was conducted by WaterAid entitled ‘Caught short: How a lack of toilets and clean water contributes tomalnutrition’ released yesterday cited that Tanzania has 34.7 per cent of stunted children which is a drop from 42 per cent in 2010.
The report also showed that the country now has 84 per cent of its population without access to water and 44 per cent of its population without access to a toilet.
Countries in Africa that have outnumbered Tanzania include Nigeria which ranks second after India with 10,321,000 stunted children, Ethiopia with 5,822,000 and DRC with 5,072,000.
“Stunting not only makes children shorter for their age, but affects their emotional, social and cognitive development, meaning their lives and life chances are forever changed,” says Ms Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive.
Around the world, 159 million children under the age of five are stunted – a consequence of malnutrition in the first two years of their life.
While malnutrition is mainly associated with a lack of food, the new report highlights the major role a lack of access to clean water and decent toilets plays in this global crisis.
Almost 50 per cent of malnutrition cases are linked to chronic diarrhoea caused by lack of clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene, including handwashing with soap.
For a child, experiencing five or more cases of diarrhoea before the age of two can lead to stunting. Beyond this age, the effects are largely irreversible.
As the first anniversary of the Sustainable Developmental Goals approaches, WaterAid is calling on world leaders to uphold the commitments they made to end hunger and malnutrition, and reach everyone everywhere with clean water and sanitation by 2030.
“Good food, the focus of most malnutrition programmes, will only get us halfway to the finishing line in addressing this crisis,” says Ms Frost.
“We need to ensure governments make clean water, decent toilets and clean hands a priority in efforts to end malnutrition.”
Other calls made include Ministries of Health, Water, Sanitation, Agriculture and Education must all coordinate their efforts to tackle the underlying causes, as well as the effects, of malnutrition as well as international institutions, researchers and civil society organisations must collaborate to strengthen the evidence-base and understanding of how WASH and nutrition are connected, and which approaches are most effective.