||In the public
imagination, the home of the malnourished child is sub-Saharan Africa. But the league
tables clearly show that the worst-affected region is not Africa but South Asia. Just over
30% of Africa's children are underweight, but the corresponding figure for South Asia is
over 50%. And in Bangladesh and India, the proportion of children malnourished is very
significantly higher than in even the poorest countries of the sub-Sahara.
Measured by absolute numbers, it is to be
expected that problems of poverty will be concentrated in South Asia, simply because of
the sheer size of its populations (India alone has 50% more people than 47 countries of
sub-Saharan Africa put together). But when the proportion affected is also far higher, as
is the case with child malnutrition, then the centre of gravity of the problem shifts
still further. That is why half of the world's malnourished children are to be found in
just three countries - Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.