Food Insecurity in Iraq Persists: Children Suffer
The following was reported by UNICEF
AMMAN/BAGHDAD, 11 May 2006 – Despite the laudable efforts of the Public Distribution System (PDS) of food baskets, many of Iraq’s poorer households are still food insecure, according to a Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis launched today, based on the most recent data from 2005.
The study was successfully conducted by the Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation and Central Organization for Statistics & Information Technology (COSIT) and the Ministry of Health/Nutrition Research Institute (NRI), supported by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF. It was sorely needed, both to answer questions arising from apparently conflicting reports on nutritional status and to support policy development and prioritization to deal with identified problem areas.
The survey was very comprehensive, covering 98 districts and 22,050 rural and urban households, and employed seven leading indicators: stunting, underweight, wasting, per cent of population who were extremely poor (spending less than US$15 per month), PDS ration dependency rate, Coping Strategy Index, and income.
Roger Wright, UNICEF’s Special Representative for Iraq, lamented that children were confirmed as the major victims of food insecurity. “The chronic malnutrition rate of children in food insecure households was as high as 33 per cent, or one out of every three children malnourished,” he stated. Chronic malnutrition affects the youngest and most vulnerable children, aged 12 months to 23 months, most severely. “This can irreversibly hamper the young child’s optimal mental and cognitive development, not just their physical development,” he said. Acute malnutrition was also of concern, with nine per cent of Iraqi children being acutely malnourished. The highest rates (12-13 per cent) were again found in children aged under 24 months.
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