The social and economic impact of child undernutrition on Lesotho Vision 2020

Lesotho is losing 1.9 billion Maloti (US$200 million) a year to the effects of child undernutrition, according to a new, country-specific Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study released. This amounts to more than 7 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The money is lost through increased healthcare costs, additional burdens on the education system and lower productivity of the workforce. The study estimates that Lesotho could save 2.86 billion Maloti (US$292 million) by 2025 if the prevalence of underweight in children were reduced from 10% to 5%, and stunting from one-third to one-tenth. Investing in nutrition is a moral and economic imperative. The report is being released to coincide with the launch of the country’s Food and Nutrition Policy and of the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Lesotho movement. This month has been declared Lesotho Nutrition Month and its theme is “First 1,000 Days of Life”. The COHA report comes at a crucial time for Lesotho. Some 709,000 people – more than one in four of the population – are in need of food assistance, according to the 2016 Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) report. Lesotho is suffering from the effects of two years of drought, most recently as a result of El Niño, which has badly affected agricultural and livestock production.