Under-nutrition costs Tanzania 2.65%

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has said Tanzania has been losing an average of 2.65% of its economy due to under-nutrition.

GAIN said under-nutrition remains a huge challenge worldwide and according to statistics some two billion people are not eating well.

The GAIN’s Director, Matt Freeman told East African Business Week during the meeting on partnerships between the government and business said in Tanzania the prevalence of stunted children under five remains high at 45% .

“It is also estimated that under-nutrition is a significant cost to the Tanzanian economy, resulting in loses of 2.65% each year,” Freeman told East African Business Week.

However he said Tanzania has been successful in engaging business in scaling up nutrition in several staple foods. Salt iodization has been particularly successful, presently reaching an estimated 82% of households.

He said although a number of large food processors are participating in food fortification, relatively few companies realize the important role they can play in scaling up nutrition.

Some successful partnerships between government, aid agencies and business exist, but most lack scale and have not been systematically integrated into ongoing and planned development activities.

The Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr Florens Turuka said they have decided to partner with business community so as to easy the fight against under-nutrition.

Dr Turuku told East African Business Week due to vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies, productivity of the people is reduced and implications for GDP are obvious.

“Part of the reason for the GDP loss is that under-nutrition leads to increased illness and lower energy levels. 

That impacts business – as it means your workers are not as productive as they could be,” he said.

“We need to put efforts together to reverse this.

 We have committed to reverse this high level of stunting by ensuring that all stakeholders play their part,” he said.

In realizing the importance of good nutrition for development, the government has also formulated a multi-sectorial National Nutrition Strategy and an implementation plan.       

 “We have set ambitious targets in our National Nutrition Strategy by targeting to reduce prevalence of stunting in children aged 0-59 months by 15% and wasting below 5% by 2015,” he said.

He said the implementation of this strategy require efforts from every stakeholder including the private sector. For many years, the government has worked with large and small business in various areas including salt iodization. 

The iodized salt has reached over 82% of the households through the market.

“We have put in place the national standard for the fortification of oil and wheat flour, he said, adding that big millers are now fortifying these products and sale them to the market.”

Despite some registered success, “we now need to fortify more staple foods such as maize and rice and all edible oils. Our National Food Fortification Alliance will help us to do this.”