Issue - February 2010

February 2010


In this edition, Lena Midrez tells us about nutrition in Bolivia; Justin Gouin writes about Bolivian female migration looking for employment opportunities; Bolivia needs Ecological education; Walter Sánchez tells us about the history of transport in more...

February 2010

Nutrition: a Fundamental Right?

The nutrition is today regarded as a fundamental right, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) agreed than more than fifty three millions people in Latin America suffer of under nutrition. According to UNICEF, one hundred and forty three millions of under developed countries’ children suffer of weight insufficiency, and only thirty eight percents of under six months old children are exclusively breastfood.

Lena Midrez
Projects Abroad
Liege - Belgica

Children and pregnant women are the first concerned by this issue. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), malnourishment in children less than two years of age causes the death of one child out of five in the world. In South America, more than fifteen million children suffer from this problem. As a result of the extreme conditions and lack of education, malnutrition affects particularly the indigenous children. Thus, countries with high rates of indigenous population are the main victims of malnutrition. Countries such as Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and Bolivia have been affected the worst.

With twenty nine percent of children under five suffering from poor nutrition, this figure reaching forty percent in some rural areas (Foundation Intervida), Bolivia is the South American country whose chronicle under the nutrition index is the highest, an alarming situation.

Chronic malnutrition is manifested by size, when the acute is marked by low weight. Besides, almost one Bolivian child in two suffers of anemia (lack of iron in the blood). This disgrace affects almost fifty million children around the continent, who are th us more exposed to the illnesses.

“There is no milk here. The babies receive the same soup than the bigger children”

A doctor from an orphanage in Cochabamba talks to us about the conditions of his workplace: “The majority of the children arrive with problems of poor nutrition; they are already in a bad state when they come to the orphanage. A badly fed child has very low defenses, and is vulnerable to sicknesses. Later, these children will have diverse troubles ranging from skin problems, weight and of anemia.”

This alarming proportion of malnourished children can be explained by the high consumption of carbohydrates (rice, 3 potatoes, wheat, corn, yuccas), and by the low consumption of proteins and fats. Bolivian families, notably in extremely poor areas, cruelly lack fruits, meat, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, and fish.

But the main cause for poor nutrition is the limitation of maternal lactation and the inadequacy of the other food, which should gradually be given to children.

In Bolivia, according to the Foundation Intervida, only sixty nine percent of children less than two months old receive exclusive maternal lactation. The nourishment of a child during his two first years has huge importance; if he is not breastfed enough and if he does not receive the right nutrition, his mental abilities are compromised, his growth stunted and his immune system weakened. Badly nourished children cannot defend themselves against fatal illnesses such as pneumonia or diarrhea which are the primary causes for Bolivian infant mortality. The children also suffer relapses throughout their lives. More over, these factors have negative impacts on the social, productive and economical national development.

Breastfeeding is such a big priority. It saves lives and enhances children’s potential. UNICEF recommends exclusive breast feeding until the child reaches six months, and the suckling with progressive introduction of adequate nourishment should be carried out until the age of two. The general director of UNICEF, A. Veneman, tells us: “exclusive suckling is the best way to feed the babies until six months”. Unfortunately, this advice is far from being taken into account. “There is no milk here. The babies receive the same soup as the bigger children; there should be special nourishment for the smallest ones. When they start eating, they need fruits and vegetable puree, but they do not have that here. There are not fruits”, explains the orphanage’s doctor.

Maternal milk is the perfect form of nourishment. Many nutrients possessing vast quantities of biological proprieties are essential during the first years of the baby, when its brain will double its size. According to UNICEF, a bottle-feeding infant has a fourteen times higher risk to die of diarrhea than a breastfed child.

To solve this issue, there are no other alternatives than working on the prevention of women who do not breastfeed their children, in order to do this governments should aim to raise citizens’ consciousness about the issue of malnutrition in children; to promote best alimentation practices, and to give lots of advice to the mothers. Indeed, the mothers have all the keys to success to eradicate this problem and the power to save millions of children’s lives.

The Social Cost of Migrant Labour

Beginning in the early 2000s, the United Nations grew concerned with how to account for and protect the rights of these workers. According to their official estimates, as of 2003 there was between 185 and 192 million world’s population in transit for labour opportunities, that’s 3% of the world’s population. The obvious questions that are raised pertain to how to account for all of these diasporic workers, especially when many begin working illegally, how to determine the long-term implications of migration, and how to ensure that human rights violations do not become an endemic problem.

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