Millions of Children Go Hungry

Cape Times (South Africa), October 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

Millions of Children Go Hungry


BYLINE: Laura Lopez Gonzalez Health-e News Service

About 2.5 million children go hungry each year in South Africa and researchers warn that today's unmet needs will have serious consequences for tomorrow without more early childhood interventions.

Released today, the UCT Children's Institute's latest Child Gauge report notes that despite the expansion of social grants and the introduction of school feeding schemes, millions of children in South Africa still go hungry.

Poverty, deprivation and inequality will have a major effect on the country's next generation unless programmes are put in place to ensure young children have access to better nutrition and health and grow up in stimulating environments.

Produced in partnership with the UN Children's Fund, the report notes that while the country has reduced maternal mortality, hunger and stunting, as well as increasing access to care, there are stark inequities between provinces and population groups.

About one-third of children in the Northern Cape go hungry - more than three times the percentage of Gauteng children that reportedly experience a lack of food.

Limpopo reported the lowest rates of child hunger, with about 4 percent of children skipping meals. The province has also reduced child hunger rates by about 24 percent since 2002.

In 2002, 6.4 million children had to travel more than 30 minutes to reach their nearest clinic.

Today, that number has dropped by two million but the report notes disparities remain between population groups.

Black children are three times as likely as other children to have to travel far for medical care and least likely to have access to a private car if in need of medical attention.

UCT's research comes on the heels of recent Human Sciences Research Council surveys that found more than 25 percent of all South African children below the age of three years were stunted, or too short for their age, due to malnutrition. …

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