IGNORANCE of types of food with the right ingredients among people in the East African region is the main cause of malnutrition in the block.
Experts in agriculture, food and poverty alleviation who were in a three-day symposium here voiced their concern that people tend to go for expensive foodstuff instead of going for food with the necessary nutrients.
The symposium contemplated on improving nutrition, alleviating hunger and addressing poverty in dry land areas with special emphasis in East Africa, heard that there are simple crops growing in drylands that have the right nutrients but are ignored.
World Vision Tanzania Operations Director, Dr Yosh Kasilima said that malnutrition in Tanzania is a huge challenge, especially among children and women.
“World Vision operates in 26 districts and 13 regions in Tanzania and we have discovered the challenge to be huge, so we have to offer training to raise awareness that what some take to be food for the poor are cheap and at most times are the ones with the required nutrients or energy,” said Mr Kasilima.
The symposium is co-organised by Amaranth Institute, World Vision Tanzania and ECHO East Africa and it is scrutinizing the situation in the block as well as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi.
He noted that as malnutrition is deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients, he said normal food such as amaranth that is easily and cheaply cultivated could remedy the situation.
Malnutrition has two groups of conditions - under-nutrition that includes stunting; low height for age, wasting; low weight for height, underweight; low weight for age and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies; a lack of important vitamins and minerals.
The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
Malnutrition affects people in many countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that around 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight, while 462 million are underweight.
An estimated 41 million children under the age of five years are overweight or obese, while some 159 million are stunted and 50 million are wasted.
Adding to the burden are the 528 million or 29 percent of women of reproductive age around the world affected by anemia, for which approximately half would be amenable to iron supplementation.
The Country Director for Empower Tanzania, Mr Elibariki Kisimbo, who is Amaranth Institute’s representative in Tanzania, insisted that amaranth powder could be the solution to the problem, as it could be grown anywhere and it requires little water.
ECHO East Africa Technical Advisor, Mr Charles Bonaventure said it is high time people use simple food but rich in necessary inputs and useful in brain activity. Arusha Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Mrisho Gambo, thanked the three organisations for addressing the situation, saying that the training fits well with the agenda of the government that is gearing towards industrialised country