by ‘Sunday Times,’ Colombo, September 14, 2017
Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have the highest rates of undernourishment in Asia, according to the Asian Development Bank.
In a statement by Data Leads which quoted the ADB report , almost 27 per cent of the population of Timor Leste remains undernourished, and more than 1 in 10 people report being hungry. Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are other Asian countries with the highest rates of undernourishment in the region. The rate of undernourishment is as high as 26.8 per cent in Afghanistan, 22 per cent in Sri Lanka and 22 per cent in Pakistan, as per latest data by the Asian Development Bank.
Mongolia (20.5 per cent) and Laos (18.5 per cent) are the other Asian countries which are battling high rates of undernourishment among the population.
South Asian neighbours India and Bangladesh, with comparatively large sets of population, also have 16.4 and 15.2 per cent rate of undernourishment respectively.
Elsewhere in Asia, Cambodia, Myanmar and Philippines have also recorded a high rate of undernourishment. While Cambodia and Myanmar both have recorded 14.2 per cent rate of undernourishment, Philippines’ is a whisker less at 13.5 per cent.
Even Vietnam, China and Indonesia have undernourishment rates of 11, 9.3 and 7.6 per cent respectively. Indonesia’s undernourishment rate is almost the same as Nepal (7.8 per cent) and Thailand (7.4 per cent).
In spite of economic growth and some amount of poverty reduction, Asian countries still face a massive challenge of undernourishment.
Besides undernourishment, Asian countries have also recorded increasing cases of stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, calorie consumption deficiency and now even obesity.
As per the FAO, overcoming these challenges would require a steady mix of policy and institutional framework rework, increased investment in agriculture as well as promoting awareness and sustainable practices.
Strengthening cooperation on a region wide basis may also help in tackling the problem of undernourishment.