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Nearly One-Third Of Under-Five Children Malnourished In Southern Afghanistan, Survey Shows

Approximately one-third of children under the age of five in southern Afghanistan, about one million, have acute malnutrition, “with a level of deprivation similar to that found in famine zones, a government survey has found, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that has been poured into the region,” the Guardian reports. The U.N.-supported “Afghanistan Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) found 29.5 percent of children are suffering from acute malnutrition there,” the newspaper states, noting that a level of more than 30 percent is one indicator of famine, as are death rates and families’ access to food.

Though the region has adequate food supplies, poor understanding of nutrition, poverty, and misconceptions about breastfeeding play a role in the high level of malnutrition among children, according to the newspaper. “Aid workers admit that although Afghanistan is well known to have chronic malnutrition problems, evidence of an extreme nutrition crisis caught them by surprise,” the Guardian writes, adding, “The U.N. and aid groups are now racing to gather more details on the scale of the problem, and worst-hit locations” (Graham-Harrison, 9/4).