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The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 3: Endemic Hunger$
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Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198286370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198286370.001.0001

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Undernutrition in Sub‐Saharan Africa

Undernutrition in Sub‐Saharan Africa

A Critical Assessment of the Evidence

(p.155) 5 Undernutrition in Sub‐Saharan Africa
The Political Economy of Hunger: Volume 3: Endemic Hunger

Peter Svedberg (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

From 5% to 45% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa appear to be undernourished, depending on the indicator and sources consulted. This enormous discrepancy calls for a diagnosis of the extent of undernourishment in the region. This chapter argues that both FAO and IBRD have based their estimates on the FAO calorie availability data, which are downward biased thus leading to an inflated figure for undernourishment. This exaggeration is an upshot of biased methods, non-representative data, and imprecise and ambiguous conception of undernutrition. The chapter makes extensive use of anthropometric evidence to establish these substantive conclusions. It suggests that even when sample studies are representative and unbiased, supplementary socio-economic data are required to understand the source of undernutrition.

Keywords:   FAO/IBRD method, anthropometric methods, estimation bias, calorie availability, undernutrition

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