gatesnotes
The blog of Bill Gates
gatesnotes
The blog of Bill Gates

Why Does Hunger Still Exist in Africa?

Sign In
 
My Profile & Settings
Log out
GO
Filter By
Posts
Videos
Your search for "", with selected filters, does not match any posts. Please try again with a different search term or reset filters.

Popular searches include: Books, Malaria, and Future of Food.
RELATED ARTICLES ON
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
This verification token has expired.
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
Your account has been deactivated. Sign up to re-activate your account.
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
Logout:


Become a Gates Notes Insider
- or - Sign up with email
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Send me updates from Bill Gates
Sign Up
Join the Gates Notes community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, subscribe to your favorite topics and more. We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Sign Up" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
Account Settings
VIEW & EDIT PROFILE
Your Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Password
Save
Cancel
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Deactivate Account
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process. Deactivate account If you want to permanently delete your account and remove its content, please send us a request here.
Ok
Gates Notes Insider Sign Up FAQ

Q. How do I create a Gates Notes account?

A. There are three ways you can create a Gates Notes account:

  • Sign up with Facebook. We’ll never post to your Facebook account without your permission.
  • Sign up with Twitter. We’ll never post to your Twitter account without your permission.
  • Sign up with your email. Enter your email address during sign up. We’ll email you a link for verification.

Q. Will you ever post to my Facebook or Twitter accounts without my permission?

A. No, never.

Q. How do I sign up to receive email communications from my Gates Notes account?

A. In Account Settings, click the toggle switch next to “Send me updates from Bill Gates.”

Q. How will you use the Interests I select in Account Settings?

A. We will use them to choose the Suggested Reads that appear on your profile page.

Forgot your password?
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Reset Password
Change your header photo
your image
 
Change
your image
Uh Oh!

The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.

Ok
First name
Last name
Enter a first and last name. For example, "Richard Feynman"
Bio
0/160 characters
Edit Profile
Account Settings
Save
Cancel
Suggested Reads
Reset your password.
Set New Password
Your password has been reset. You will now be redirected to the sign in page, or you can click here
Ok
Get emails from Bill Gates
Send me updates from Bill
You must provide an email
This email is already registered
Continue
We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Continue" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
 
your image
Uh Oh!
The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.
Ok
Welcome FirstName!
You are now a Gates Notes Insider
Update Your Profile Information
First name
Last name
Save
Cancel
Email address
This email is already registered
Save
Cancel
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
Select Your Interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Continue
Confirm
Are you sure you want to
deactivate your account?
Deactivating your account will unsubscribe you from Gates Notes emails, and will remove your profile and account information from public view on the Gates Notes. Please allow for 24 hours for the deactivation to fully process. You can sign back in at any time to reactivate your account and restore its content.
Deactivate My Acccount
Go Back
Your Gates Notes account has been deactivated.
Come back anytime.
Welcome back
In order to unsubscribe you will need to sign-in to your Gates Notes Insider account
Once signed in just go to your Account Settings page and set your subscription options as desired.
Sign In
Request account deletion
We’re sorry to see you go. Your request may take a few days to process; we want to double check things before hitting the big red button. Requesting an account deletion will permanently remove all of your profile content. If you’ve changed your mind about deleting your account, you can always hit cancel and deactivate instead.
Submit
Cancel
Thank You! Your request has been sent
Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions
Sign up to receive occasional updates from the Gates Notes
Sign Up
Privacy Policy
It looks like you're using an older version of Internet Explorer which may not display all the features on this site. Upgrade Now » close
Malnourished in Africa
WATCH VIDEO
Africa’s Table

Why Does Hunger Still Exist in Africa?

When I first started traveling to Africa, I would often meet children in the villages I was visiting and try to guess their ages. I was shocked to find out how often I guessed wrong. Kids I thought were 7 or 8 years old based on how tall they were – would tell me that they were actually 12 or 13 years old.

What I was witnessing was the terrible impact of malnutrition in Africa. These children were suffering from a condition known as stunting. They were not starving, but they were not getting enough to eat, leaving them years behind in their development – and it was hard to see how they could ever catch up.

Infographic: Stunting from Malnutrition in Tanzania | GatesNotes.com The Blog of Bill Gates

Stunting not only affects a child’s height. It also has an impact on brain development. Stunted children are more likely to fall behind at school, miss key milestones in reading and math, and go on to live in poverty. When stunted children don’t reach their potential, neither do their countries. Malnutrition saps a country’s strength, lowering productivity and keeping the entire nation trapped in poverty.

Worldwide, one in four children is stunted. Three-quarters of them live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. However, while stunting has declined by more than a third in South Asia since 1990, in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of stunted children is still on the rise, up 12 million since 1990 to 56 million. Forty percent of all children in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted.

Infographic: Stunting from Malnutrition in Children Under Age 5 | GatesNotes.com The Blog of Bill Gates

I run into a lot of people from rich countries who still think of Africa as a continent of starvation. The fact is, that’s an outdated picture (to the extent that it was ever accurate at all). Thanks to economic growth and smart policies, the extreme hunger and starvation that once defined the continent are now rare. As I saw when I was back in Africa last month with best-selling author John Green, today the issue isn’t quantity of food as much as it is quality—whether kids are getting enough protein and other nutrients to fully develop.

As Melinda and I have grown aware of the scale of this challenge, we’ve made improving nutrition a bigger priority for our foundation. One thing we’ve quickly come to appreciate is the problem’s complexity.  There’s no vaccine to prevent stunting. Proper nutrition involves eating enough food, and the right kinds, every day of your life. While the global health community is still working to understand all of the causes and solutions to malnutrition, we do know a lot about how to ensure children get the nutrition they need for a healthy start to life.

We know that getting children the right nutrition in the first 1000 days – from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s 2nd birthday – is the best down payment on their future, giving them the opportunity to grow and develop physically and mentally. We also know that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a child’s life is the single most effective intervention to help the brain develop and protect against life-threatening diseases. That’s why we continue to research the best ways to address cultural beliefs and other barriers that have kept almost half of all women from using optimal breastfeeding practices.

We know kids have a hard time getting the nutrients they need when fruits, meats, and vegetables are in short supply—so fortifying staple foods like cooking oil, flour, and salt with essential vitamins and minerals can fill the gap. We’re also beginning to develop new crops that are more-nutritious--including a sweet potato that’s enriched with vitamin A—and also produce a higher yield. Not only does this help smallholder farmers earn more income that can be used to diversify their family’s diet, it also puts more nutritious food directly on their table.

Providing better health care can make a difference too. Children who receive the rotavirus vaccine, for example, have fewer bouts of diarrhea, which can drain kids of vital nutrients and make them more susceptible to infection. Likewise, clean water and sanitation play a role in improving nutrition by reducing illness and disease.

We have many great interventions on our side, but with so many factors at play it can be difficult to measure which interventions have the most impact on improving nutrition and why. If I could have one wish, I would want the world to have a better understanding of malnutrition and how to solve it.

We have much more research to do in this area and we will continue to make progress. But what’s not in doubt is the importance of giving all children the nutrition they need for a healthy start to life. Their future depends on it. So does Africa’s.

Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading suggestions

Read previous versions of the Annual Letter


Discussion
comments powered by Disqus