Alarming Report From Malawi Foresees The GOP’s Plan To Keep America’s Children Hungry

The Guardian reports some alarming research on the effects of child hunger in Malawi, one of the poorest nations in the world. Alternating droughts and floods — along with their lack of minerals, good soil, infrastructure and effective government — puts Malawi well ahead of the U.S. in the race to failed state status.

Yet, thanks to the GOP, we’re a lot closer to becoming a failed state than you might think.

A report from the Malawian ministry of finance, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the African Union Commission, and other groups found that nearly half of Malawi’s children under age five suffer from severe stunting due to lack of nutrients while their mothers were pregnant and in their first two years:

Stunting – or low height for age – occurs when children miss out on vital nutrients in the womb and in the first two years of their lives. Its effects are enduring, causing frequent illness, poor educational performance and low productivity at work.

Unfortunately, the effects from child hunger and stunting are permanent and ongoing.  And children don’t need to look emaciated for stunting to take place.Once it happens, there’s no catching up from malnutrition in these key early years for development. According to the study:

“Despite significant progress made in recent years, results … have shown that almost half of all children under five in Malawi (1.268 million out of 2.765 million children) were affected by stunting in 2012, and almost 350,715 children were underweight. This situation is especially critical for children between 12 and 23 months, out of whom 54.3% are affected by stunting.”

Now, the hunger that stunts Malawi’s children is also stunting their nation’s economic growth:

  • 59.9% of working-age Malawians suffered from hunger and stunting before reaching the critical age of five.
  • Two-thirds of Malawi’s people of working age perform menial labor.
  • An estimated $66.7 million was lost in 2012 alone due to reduced productivity from stunted growth.
  • In 2012 alone, 800,566 working hours were lost to child deaths related to hunger, and bereaved parents taking time off to mourn them.
  • The research estimates that in 2012, Malawi lost $597 million — a full 10.3% of its GDB — due to child hunger and malnutrition.

We shouldn’t even be letting an entire generation of children suffer this way in distant Malawi. Yet, here in America, we’re stunting the futures of our own children — especially children of color — and Republicans keep making things even harder for them and their families.

One in five U.S. children suffer from hunger.

See that group of kids playing or chattering happily while walking home from school? One in five of them will go to bed hungry tonight, but we probably won’t know which child it is.

Before we sneer at Malawi and other poor nations, we need to remember that child hunger is caused by poverty, and poverty is no accident. Like slavery, apartheid, genocide and other social injustices, poverty is caused by groups of people enriching themselves at other groups of people’s expense.

Thanks to the low wages, budget cuts and income inequality caused by the GOP’s policies, an appalling 16 million U.S. children suffer from hunger.

  • A January report from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals 16 million children’s families are so poor they require food stamps (SNAP)
  • Most families on food stamps have one or both parents working.
  • People taking the Food Stamps Challenge have repeatedly proven it’s nearly impossible to provide both adequate calories and nutrition on the pittance provided by SNAP.
  • Instead of helping struggling families, our GOP-led Congress keeps slashing food stamps.
  • In UNICEF’s survey of “advanced” nations  (OECD countries), America ranks an appalling 26 out of 29 when it comes to the material well-being of our children.
  • In 2013 17.5 million households suffer from food insecurity — which the USDA defines as not being able to adequately feed everyone in the household consistently.
  • DoSomething.Org adds that in the U.S., over one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s one in three.
  • As we previously reported here at Addicting Info, growing income inequality is literally killing children. In urban areas around the world, low-income children are at least twice as likely to die before reaching the age of five than their more well-off peers.

Yet still, the Republicans who’ve seized control of our nation do nothing to fight child hunger. They refuse to raise the minimum wage or allow unions to negotiate for workers so people can earn enough to lift themselves and their children out of poverty. Yet the GOP also refuses to expand public assistance programs to address child hunger and the increasing number of other public crises caused by poverty in our country. By failing to invest in our children and the people who care for them, we are dooming ourselves to become a third world nation.


Featured photo: ActAlliance.