Malnutrition in Zambia: Harnessing social protection for the most vulnerable

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Save the Children UK

Malnutrition prevents millions of Zambia’s children from reaching their potential. The rates of malnutrition – among the highest in the world – are reducing the country’s chances of achieving its aspiration to be a prosperous upper-middle-income country by 2030. An estimated 40% of children under five in Zambia are stunted (low height-for-age) and 15% are underweight (low weight-for-age). Children in the poorest households are more than twice as likely to be underweight as children in the wealthiest households.

Social protection is a crucial tool in combatting poverty, in tackling inequalities and breaking intergenerational poverty traps. It is a mechanism through which human rights can be realised and a means for states to protect their most vulnerable citizens. This is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) constitution, and legal instruments on social security.

A number of non-contributory social protection programmes exist in Zambia, including the government’s Social Cash Transfer (SCT). The scale-up of the SCT presents a unique opportunity to improve nutrition in Zambia. In this report, Save the Children explores how it can be done.

This reports builds upon the approaches set out in Malnutrition in Bangladesh: Harnessing social protection for the most vulnerable, which was published by Save the Children in February 2015.

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