Nutrition-Sensitive Diet in Somalia

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Economic access is one of the most significant barriers to achieving a nutritious diet, particularly in rural areas across Somalia. Somalian meals consist of mainly staple commodities (maise, sorghum, rice, wheat and pasta), oil and, with limited consumption of nutritious foods, such as fruits and vegetables. The majority of the Somali population consumes more frequently an energy-based diet because of their affordability and accessibility 3 . It consists primarily of starchy carbohydrates and minimum nutritional values. A healthy and balanced meal globally costs approximately six (6) times more to purchase compared to an energy-based diet. According to the World Food Programme (WFP): Fill the Nutrition Gap, the cost of diet is roughly seven (7) dollars per day per household in Somalia. Because a nutritionally dense food is not affordable to the majority of the population; as a result, their health is impacted with hidden hunger, iron deficiency anaemia and vitamin A. Despite large volumes of CVA activities4 , the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) continues to be reported as a serious factor affecting the overall health of the Somali population. The median (GAM) prevalence has remained severe or between (10– 14.9%) for the past three consecutive seasons (13.1% in 2019/20 Deyr, 13.8% in 2019 Gu and 12.6 % in 2018/19 Deyr). According to a Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) study on malnutrition cases in Somalia, 53.9% of children under 5 suffer from anaemia. One-third of children have iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) and vitamin A deficit, increasing their risk of infection and mortality. IDA among women is also in excess of 30%, increasing the risk of low birth weight babies and birth complications (Somalia Micronutrient Survey 2019). Over half the women in the FSNAU study suffered from Vitamin A deficiency, while 49.1% pregnant women and 46.6% non-pregnant women of reproductive age suffered from anaemia and contribute to perpetuating the cycle of malnutrition as malnourished girls as they are at higher risk of giving birth to infants who are small for gestational age and/or of low birth weight.