Last October, Action Against Hunger’s teams in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone completed a nationwide nutrition survey. The purpose of this exercise was to determine if the nutritional status of the population evolved since the last survey in 2014, to assess the situation post Ebola outbreak, and to identify what were the main determinants affecting the fight against hunger.
The survey’s teams assessed 9,469 households in the 15 districts focusing on the children aged 6-59 months and the women of reproductive age (15-49 years old). They closely monitored major contextual factors contributing to malnutrition such as food security, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as health and care practices.
Although the malnutrition situation has been improving since 2008, the Ebola epidemic outbreak in 2014 has slowed down the fight against hunger. After the epidemic, there has been no significant improvement in acute or chronic malnutrition rates. On the contrary, there has been a minor deterioration in acute malnutrition situation, particularly in the urban areas.
At the same time, chronic malnutrition (stunting) remains high; more than 30% of the children are stunted which indicates a serious situation. If stunting is not prevented in the first two years of life, then the effects are irreversible in the later years: decrease of cognitive, motor, language development and learning capacity. In parallel, global acute malnutrition reaches 5,1% of the children assessed. Among them, 1% suffer of severe acute malnutrition, the most life-threatening form of undernutrition.
Moreover, a history of low birth weight or stunting is a risk factor for children to become overweight or obese and to develop cardiovascular disease or diabetes in later life. In poor urban areas and slums, more than 30% of the women surveyed are overweight. This occurrence of both under and over nutrition in children and women is an indication of the emerging double burden and complexity of malnutrition in the country.
Water, sanitation and hygiene indicators reveal a lack of access to the resources and poor practices. 80% of the household surveyed do not have access to toilet/latrine and 28% do not have access to a protected source of drinking water. While 70% of the surveyed population use soap, only 30% of those wash their hands at least three critical times.
To learn more about the recommendations and the findings of the survey, child nutrition status, maternal health and nutrition, mortality results, health programs coverage, infant and young child feeding practices, food security and livelihoods, please download the full report and the snapshot.
Sierra Leone’s national nutrition survey has been undertaken by Action Against Hunger in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, UNICEF, WHO, WFP, Hellen Keller International and funded by Irish Aid
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