40% of Lamu children seriously malnourished, says UNICEF

40% of Lamu children seriously malnourished, says UNICEF

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Lamu children playing by the beach. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Lamu, KENYA: At least 40% of children in Lamu are seriously malnourished as a result of the ongoing drought, the UNICEF has said.

According to a report compiled the LaMu county health department and the UNICEF,40% of between the ages of 17 months to 5 years are suffering from chronic malnutrition.

Speaking in Lamu on Monday,UNICEF Nutritionist Janet Ntwiga said many of the children assessed, exhibited features of stunted growth.

Ntwiga said majority of the children also exhibited low weight and unusual height gains compared to their ages which she said were clear indications of malnutrition.

The nutritionist said the situation had been attributed to the fact that parents were not able to feed the required balanced diet to their children due to the drought and poverty amongst other reasons.

“At least 40% of children here are seriously malnourished. Majorly we attribute the situation to the drought.Also,parents aren’t in a position to afford a balanced diet for their kids,”said Ntwiga.

Areas in Lamu where children have been found to be highly malnourished include but are not limited to Pandanguo,Chalaluma, Bar’goni, Miruji, Lumshi, Pangani and villages occupied by the Boni minority community in Basuba.

Lamu county Nutritionist Charles Mwashighadi said poverty was the greatest cause of malnutrition among children, since their parents can’t afford to accord them balanced diets.

He said the number of parents who are able to afford balanced diets for their children in Lamu is very low compared to those who can’t.

The nutritionist has appealed to all those who are bringing in food aid to Lamu, to also consider including children’s food and other nutritional supplements to help save the children from malnutrition and the subsequent effects.

“According to a study we conducted, only 25% of Lamu residents can afford a balanced diet. The rest have to literally struggle for meals and in this case,the children are worst affected because lack of balanced diet automatically bars proper and healthy growth. We are however appealing to parents to try the much they can to ensure children get a good diet,” said Mwashighadi.