Liberia’s Nutrition Status Ranked ‘Serious’

Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper (3rd from left) and Health Minister Dr. Whilhelmina Jallah, flanked by partners, launched the Global Hunger Index report in Monrovia.

The 2021 Global Hunger Index report has indicated the nutrition status of Liberia is “serious”. 

The country now ranks 110 out of 135 countries assessed with a score of 33.3 out of 100 on the issue of nutrition. This indicates that more needs to be done to improve the food and nutrition status of the nation, according to the report.

The report, which is a comprehensive tool designed to measure and track the level of hunger in the world, was launched recently by partners in collaboration with the Government of Liberia.

It is valued on four component indicators, including undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality rate, which are reported by countries. 

Some issues highlighted in the report and also recommended by the stakeholders during the event included the need to enhance the resilience of the food system by addressing conflicts and climate change, improving financing opportunities for agriculture, encouraging multi-sectoral relationships for food security improvement, and attracting more young people’s involvement for agriculture.    

Food security and nutrition still remain a critical challenge for Liberia despite previous interventions. Currently, climate change, low investment in agriculture, and the Coronavirus situation have undermined the country’s food security and nutrition efforts. 

The event was attended by Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, and some members of the private sector under the theme, ‘African Year of Nutrition; the Role of Leadership for Food and Nutrition Security for Liberia’.

Minister Copper acknowledged during the event that Liberia is highly food insecure and will require more work on the part of the government and partners to change the narrative.

“Many nutrition programs have scaled-down, particularly when we took over as minister. But we saw how badly this country was in the past, about nutrition. But at the moment, we are making some progress. However, more needs to be done,” she told stakeholders.

Minister Cooper, who launched the report on behalf of the government, said that stakeholders working together assiduously will better improve the nutrition status of the country.

According to her, nutrition improvement is not only about increasing the production of food, but ensuring that foods can be affordable and utilized by the people.

She said that her ministry has a plan to carry out the conduct of a food and nutrition survey soon, which will help the government to make some necessary interventions.

“We are looking forward to the conduct of a comprehensive food and nutrition survey to enable us to plan better for our food security efforts,” she said.

The food and nutrition survey should be conducted after every three years. But since 2017, the country has not conducted or launched a latest food and nutrition report. 

For her part, the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, said that her ministry is trying to improve nutrition.

According to her, they have worked with lawmakers to finally pass a law that promotes exclusive breastfeeding.

She however said that there is a need for the Ministry to produce local food that pregnant mothers can utilize to enhance nutrition.

“We need to produce food that is available to us,” she stated.

The Health minister also stressed the need for Liberia to learn from other countries on strategies they have put in place to improve their nutrition status.

Peter Speyrer, deputy head for mission at the German Embassy, said that hunger and malnourishment in Liberia can be reduced.

He recommended the need for more investment in agriculture to empower boys and girls who want to use the sector for employment.