Recent research shows that nearly one-half or preventable deaths for children under 5 are due to malnutrition. What is the best way to address this?
The answers seem obvious: provide more food, teach people to farm and give supplements and care for acute malnutrition. However, new research shows that while all of these things are effective, there is one piece of the puzzle missing.
The International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) did an analysis of nutrition for the years 1970-1995, a time period when malnutrition rates significantly dropped. Their findings were that the logical thought, that people had more food, is not a primary factor in better nutrition:
“What made this progress possible? A larger supply of food available per person seems like a good explanation, and this was in fact something that helped. But the IFPRI analysis found that it was responsible for only about 26 percent of the improvement. Gains in women’s education explained 43 percent of it.
Sending girls to school was more effective in reducing child malnutrition than having more food available. Why? It’s largely because worldwide, women carry the major responsibility for providing for their families. Conditions that interfere with women’s ability to earn a living – such as lack of education — contribute directly to hunger and disease among their children, both boys and girls”