An extra $10.3 billion in new public resources would be required to scale up food programs in the 36 countries that have the highest levels of malnutrition and that account for 90 percent of children whose growth is stunted by inadequate nutrition, according to a World Bank report.
However, it is the lost of potential dollars and cents that worry the international class. Poorly-fed children rob Africa of up to 16 percent of its potential growth, making investment in programs to end malnutrition as critical to the continent's future as building bridges and roads.
"Every child stunted is GDP growth that is left on the table," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said. The costs of adequately feeding children would be easily offset by raising GDP levels in Sub-Saharan Africa by at least two to 3 percentage points, experts said. The dividends for African economies range from 2 percent to 16 percent of GDP, based on UN and World Bank data.
Abdoulaye Diop, Mali's foreign minister, called it a worthwhile investment.
Nigeria's Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said "We invest so much in infrastructure, in bridges and in roads. But most important is grey matter. We really need to invest in that."