Opposition Alliance for Democracy and Development Luena Member of Parliament (MP) Gertrude Imenda has observed that the majority of Zambians are becoming shorter due to poor nutrition.
About 40 percent of Zambian children under the age of five are stunted.
Mrs Imenda stated that most Zambians after Independence were taller and well built compared to the current population.
She said the reduced stature of most Zambians can be attributed to their poor nutrition.
Mrs Imenda was speaking at Parliament when the Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance made a submission to the Expanded Estimates Committee on the 2016 National Budget.
‘Off late, I have observed the Zambian population is getting shorter and shorter, I sometimes stand on Cairo Road and I see short people everywhere, there is something that has gone wrong with our nutrition and I think it is important that we address the issue of nutrition,’ Mrs. Imenda said.
Mrs. Imenda said originally, the Western Province produced the tallest people in Zambia largely due to the type of foods the region produced.
‘People from Barotseland were known to be tall people and I am not trying to be tribal here.’
‘Infact when the colonialist were leaving they advised Kaunda that honest is a key qualification for enrolling into the Police force and they told him that they had gone through all the tribes and the honest people are found in Western Province but Kaunda protested that he believed in One Zambia One Nation and he would not like to go against that principle, so they advised him to put a cutoff point on a certain height and you will get more people from Western Province,’ Mrs. Imenda said.
She said there is need for concerted efforts in addressing poor nutrition which affects many households in Zambia.
And Zambia Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition Alliance National Coordinator William Chilufya National Coordinator William Chilufya said the Alliance is not happy that budgetary allocation for nutrition programs has continued to reduce.
Mr Chilufya said it was evident that most of the sectors in the country were facing a lot of challenges due to the economic downturn but emphasised that nutrition programming needed more allocation because of its cross cutting nature.
“One thing is that at some point you have to be realistic. The issue is that we are also aware that our economy is passing through a lot of challenges and a lot of sectors have really struggled. As for nutrition, as we presented in terms of the graphs, figures have not changed for a long time and we know that our kwacha has lost most of its value so something that we got for K10 three years ago is three times that amount today, so we are at a loss,” Mr Chilufya said.
“In terms of the budget, we would categorically say that we are not happy that nutrition funding has been reducing in real terms. That is our concern and we hope that future allocations would improve.”
Mr Chilufya said it was unfortunate that 40 per cent of under five children in Zambia were stunted, adding that they were being denied their chances to survive, and to thrive.
He said there was need for the country to make the problem of malnutrition visible and urgent.
“A simple statement on nutrition by the President while addressing parliament and also the minister of finance during the annual budget speech will help keep it on the table as an issue of national importance. We noted that the President (Edgar Lungu) and finance minister (Alexander Chikwanda) did not mention the word nutrition during their address to parliament,” Mr Chilufya said.