Friday, November 20, 2009

This Isn't About Climate, But It's Unbelievable

I have to take a moment to post this unbelievable bit of info that I found buried in a UNICEF report. They sent me a nice email about buying stuff for the holidays to support their programs (which is a fine idea, along with giving them money) and about tracking progress on child nutrition. I was intrigued by the statement that "80 percent of all chronically undernourished children are found in just 24 countries." After following a link, I came to this report on Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition. On page 15, there's a world map that has a red circle on each country. The size of the red circle is proportional to the number of children in that country who are moderately to severely stunted because of hunger (they call it undernutrition now). But look--there's a pretty good-sized red circle on the U.S.! Now go to page 104. There's the top 24 countries in terms of numbers of stunted children. And look! The US is number 42 with not 714 children as I thought at first, but 714,000 children WHO ARE STUNTED BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT. This is 3% of all children under 5 in one of the richest countries in the world who are "below two standard deviations from median height for age of the WHO Child Growth Standards." We are doing only 2 percentage points better than Iran, the same as Ukraine, and worse than Chile and Croatia! TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!

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