In a recent article in the Guardian[1], a study has proven that stunting can be reversed. An organisation, Young Lives, has been studying 12,000 children who were undernourished in their early years since 2002 in Peru, Vietnam, Ethiopia and India, measuring all aspects of their physical, cognitive and social development. Their results show that 50% of children in Peru and 45% in India who were stunted in 2002 when they were about one year old, were not stunted in 2009. “So while the first thousand days are very important, the rest of a child’s life is too. It now seems clear that children can recover from stunting after their first thousand days.”

Of equal importance the study found that other factors, such as, household income, maternal education and health, local water, sanitation and health infrastructure, which are key to stunting prevention, are also important for recovery.

Lastly, the findings also suggest that children who recovered from early stunting performed better in vocabulary and mathematics tests than children who remained stunted.

The bottom line for JAM therefore is to ensure that we promote nutritional feeding with our CSS+[2] for lactating mothers and for their children up to the age of two years. At the same time we need to ensure that mothers with children up to two years are registering and receiving social grants for these children, have some form of employment or are generating income from production. Moreover, are accessing regular maternal education and health for themselves and their children, and have access to potable water and adequate sanitation.

Food Insecurity and Maternal and Child Health Context in South Africa[3][4]

Urban Unemployment – 25 %

Social Security Grants – 15 million people

Experiencing hunger  – 32.4%
At risk of hunger – 36.1 %
Rural Potable water – 94.7 %
Experiencing hunger  – 37 % Sanitation – 91 %
At risk of hunger  – 32.8 % (Both of these %s are disputed by NGOs and communities)


Provinces – % hungry Maternal and Child Health (2010)
Eastern Cape – 36. 2 % Maternal mortality – 410:100, 00
Limpopo – 30. 8 % Under 5 neonatal mortality – 30:1 000
Gauteng – 19. 2 % Under 5 mortality – 65:1 000
Western Cape – 16. 4 % Immunisation  – 70 % full coverage
Female: Male Headed HH% Stunting Severe
Insufficient food – 21:16 2008  – 23.4% 6.4%
Run out of food money – 27 2013 – 26.5% 9.5%
Cut size or miss meals – 25:17 Low birth weight – 15 %
Smaller variety of food – 25:18 Wasted – 5 %



Please click on the provided link to view a powerful video by World Vision Australia:


[2] CSS+ is a corn soya blend with sugar and micro/macro nutrients that provide up to 75% of child’s daily nutritional requirements. It is approved by the World Food Progamme.

[3] Oxfam Report. October 2014: Hidden Hunger in South Africa: The Faces of Hunger and Malnutrion in a food-secure nation.

[4] Departments of Water and Health South Africa