According to a new study published on Tuesday, India is home to the world’s largest number of stunted children. The report says that around 48 million children or two in every five children under the age of five years in India are stunted.
Stunting is a form of malnutrition in which children are shorter than normal for their age and is largely irreversible after the age of two.If they survive, they grow up physically and intellectually weaker than their better-fed peers.
Experts say that due to a lack of toilets, dirty water and poor hygiene India, the world’s second most populous nation has been named as having the greatest number of children in the world who are stunted.
It is remarkable that despite high economic growth in recent years, India has more stunted children than Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Republic of Congo combined. The report ‘Caught Short – How a Lack of Toilets and Clean Water Contributes to Malnutrition’ brought out by international development charity WaterAid said, “In India, two in every five under five, are suffering from stunted growth, which affects their physical development as well as cognitive and emotional development.”
WaterAid data shows that 140,000 children die every year from diarrhoea in India, while 76 million do not have access to safe water and 774 million live without adequate sanitation. “Currently, more than 650 million people in the world do not have access to clean water and more than 2.3 billion do not have access to an adequate toilet. Diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation are the second biggest killer of children under five after pneumonia, taking 315,000 young lives every year,” notes the report.
Nigeria and Pakistan rank second and third with 10.3 and 9.8 million children stunted respectively.