Malnutrition is the result of a complex set of interacting factors that are multi-sectoral, related to health, sanitation and care practices as well as consumption and access to food. Further influencing factors include education, gender, social equity, and the local social and environmental context. These causes of malnutrition are classified as immediate, underlying, and basic, whereby factors at one level influence other levels.
Stunting reduction is off track in the Southern Africa region, with 20 million children under 5 years who are stunted. Progress towards meeting the World Health Assembly target of a 40% reduction in the number of stunted children by 2025 is too slow to keep pace with population growth. The proportion of stunted children is declining in the region, with the notable exception of Angola, Botswana, DRC, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles and South Africa. Figure below shows that currently, at least one in three individuals are stunted in 9 out of 16 Member States in the SADC region, indicating high or very high stunting (prevalence above 30%).
Four countries have very high prevalence of stunting (above 40%): DRC, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zambia.