Hunger Costs Ethiopian Economy Billions Of Dollars

    10 July, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

    A new study shows that child hunger costs Ethiopia billions of dollars a year in economic losses. The research showed that in 2009, the country lost an estimated $4.7 billion because its children do not get enough to eat, that is equal to 16.5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.

    The report says poor nutrition has slowed growth and development in two of every five children in Ethiopia, and it says 80 percent of malnourished children do not get treatments.

    The African Union Commission, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and Ethiopian government agencies did the study. The research shows that malnutrition causes more than 20 percent of child deaths in Ethiopia. And the report notes that the deaths have reduced the number of working people in the country by eight percent.

    Elizabeth Byrs is a World Food Program official.

    "The study estimates that Ethiopia could reduce losses by $12.5 billion by 2025, if it reduces underweight rates to five percent and stunting to 10 percent."

    The report says under developed or stunted children in early education repeat grades more than non-stunted children. In addition, stunted children in Ethiopia are more likely to drop out of school, meaning they will end their education before it is completed.

    Mrs Byrs said the effects of stunting do not end with childhood. Instead, she said, stunting remains a life-long problem. She said it affects both those who suffer from it, and the larger society. The report says nearly 70 percent of adults in Ethiopia have suffered from stunting as children. It says this means more than 26 million people of working age have not been able to reach their potential.

    The report notes that adults who were stunted as children are less likely to have jobs that require a lot of physical labor, because they generally are smaller. It says this results in earnings losses.

    Mrs Byrs said the Ethiopian government recently launched a half-billion dollar National Nutrition Program, because the effects of the malnutrition are so severe. She said the government's program would provide food and vitamins to young children from birth through age 5. She said the goal is to prevent stunting during the first 1,000 days of life.

    Mrs Byrs also said the program will increase school feeding programs. She said support programs for pregnant and breast-feeding women will be developed in health centers and hospitals.

    And that's the Education Report from VOA Learning English, I'm June Simms.