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World Bank says Africa largely suffers from food borne diseases

October 18, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Manager of Agriculture Global Practice at the World Bank yesterday revealed that Africa has the highest food borne diseases, with 91 million Africans falling ill after eating contaminated food every year.

Simeon Ehui was speaking from the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC during a video conference to mark this year’s ‘International Day to End Poverty’ celebration with civil society, government officials and journalists across seventeen African countries. The bank also used the day to unveil a report titled: “Agriculture in Africa Public Spending Priorities”.

The International Day to End Poverty, which is observed on 17 October since 1993, seeks to promote people’s awareness about the need to eradicate poverty and destitution worldwide, particularly in developing countries.

It also reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to the eradication of poverty.

“Contaminated food also exacts a heavy toll on people and the economies. Africa has the highest of food borne diseases. While four people fall ill, the tenth would lose jobs and the losses push people deeper into poverty,” Mr. Ehui said.

He stated that agriculture and its multiple sectors can and must play a major role in ending poverty and push into prosperity in Africa by helping countries reach their development target as well as improving the lives of citizens and also protect the environment.

He said the bank’s vision goes beyond increasing agricultural productivity, adding that food system overall provides the energy nutrients that people will eat to advance economically and socially.

Mr. Ehui also revealed that about 230 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were under nourished, which means that one in four Africans were under nourished.

According to him, whilst other regions have seen a reduction, it has risen in Africa by 22% since 1990 and that 58 million children under five in Africa were stranded.

“About 32% of children are not receiving sufficient micro-nutrient. It can prevent people from developing to their full potential and contributing to economic growth when they become adult. Obesity should not be over looked because it is becoming a major issue in Africa,” he said.

He continued that currently close to a million children under age five were overweight or obese and that it could be problematic, adding that agriculture and climate change contribute 25 percent to greenhouse gasses and that without collective actions the number could likely rise.

Also, Sierra Leone’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Conteh stated that the theme for this year’s celebration: “Food and Jobs: Fighting Poverty through Sustainable Agriculture” speaks to the situation the country currently finds itself.

He said the government recognises the central role of poverty in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thus the decision to have it integrated into the planning process and also aligned it with the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ document.

He noted that in President Koroma’s Recovery Priorities, agriculture stands out as one of the key pillars in fighting poverty.

“We recognise the challenges, especially when it comes to fertilizer and other inputs. We welcome the World Bank support and guidance in that respect. We also want to provide access to extension training and demonstration facility for farmers in Sierra Leone,” he concluded.

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