A recent survey of 132 countries carried out by WaterAid has ranked Nigeria as second among countries with stunted children under the age of five.
This was revealed in a report titled ‘Caught Short’ which was recently released by WaterAid.
According to the report, Nigeria has 10,321,000 stunted under five children, behind India which has 48 million. Pakistan, Indonesia and China followed Nigeria on the report with 9.89 million, 8.72 million and 8.04 million respectively.
Out of 132 countries surveyed, 159 million under five children are stunted – a one out of every four children ratio, the report suggests.
Stunted growth in children can not only be attributed to nutrition and gene makeup, WaterAid explains.
‘Ask any parent what influences their child’s physical and mental development and most will answer their genes, environment and the food they eat.
‘But few know the impact that toilets and clean water have on children’s growth and development. In the developing world, a lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a major contributor to malnutrition.’
WaterAid defines stunting as children having low height for age, a sign that children have not developed as they should, physically or cognitively.
The report also suggests that stunting is ‘largely’ irreversible after the age of two.
Another part of the report says:
‘A quarter of all cases of stunting are estimated to be directly caused by chronic diarrhea in the first two years of life (and 88% of cases of diarrhea are caused by inadequate WASH).
‘Half of all cases of under nutrition are estimated to be associated with repeated diarrhea, intestinal worms and other infections as a direct result of inadequate WASH.’
WaterAid highlights that the impact of stunting cannot be overemphasised as it affects not just the child health but also affects child education and the economy. It describes stunting as one of the greatest impediments to human development globally.
‘Stunting not only makes children shorter for their age, but affects their emotional, social and cognitive development, meaning their lives and life chances are forever changed,’ says WaterAid’s Chief Executive Barbara Frost.
In 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 162 million children under the age of five were stunted.