In a new United Nations report that presents an otherwise bleak assessment of food security in Africa, Kenya was single out as for its exemplary performance in meeting global nutrition targets as the best among countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Kenya has had remarkable success in reducing under-nutrition,” states the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation in its 2018 Africa overview published on Wednesday.
That achievement is “largely due to government leadership, coordination and partnership,” the report says.
“The high level of political commitment is also reflected in the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ that is championed by the First Lady [Margaret Kenyatta] and aims to strengthen HIV control and improve maternal, newborn and child health,” the report adds.
FAO found out that specific measurements related to overall nutrition statistics showed striking gains in Kenya.
Anaemia in women of reproductive age, for instance, fell from 36 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2016. Exclusive reliance on breastfeeding rose from 32 percent of Kenyan women with newborns in 2009 to 61.4 percent in 2014.
Stunting for Kenyan children under age five also dropped from 41 to 26 percent between 2005 and 2014, according to FAO.
Kenya’s child mortality rate in 2014 was nearly half of the figure for 1989, the report adds.
The country’s ability to make further progress in providing adequate nutrition for its people is, however, constrained by a lack of funding, FAO observes.
Kenya’s progress in combating malnutrition stands in sharp contrast to the sub-Saharan region’s regression on many indicators of food security.
Close to one-quarter of Africans living in countries south of the Sahara are under-nourished, FAO reports.
The percentage of people without adequate nutrition has risen from 21.1 percent in 2015 to 23.2 percent in 2017, the latest year for which region-wide statistics are available.
Apart from weather- and climate-related factors, worsening food-security conditions in many sub-Saharan countries were likely driven by declining prices for oil and mineral exports, as well as by conflicts that left millions of Africans in urgent need of assistance, the report points out.