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Report Forecasts Dramatic Rise in African Child Malnutrition

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A new report on climate change's impact on agriculture predicts 25 million more malnourished children around the world by 2050. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are particularly vulnerable.

A new report from the International Food Policy Research Institute says climate change will increase the global number of malnourished children by 25 million in the next 40 years.

Forty percent of these children will live in Africa.

The report compares economic and biological factors affecting child nutrition in two future scenarios - a world with and a world without climate change.

Gerard Nelson is lead researcher for the report at the International Food Policy Research Institute. He says climate change will have a particularly bad impact on agricultural yields in sub-Saharan Africa.

"On top of that sub-saharan Africa in particular is home to a large number of poor people," Nelson said. "And one of the key messages to take home from our analysis is that with higher incomes people are more resilient to a variety of changes and that will be especially true for climate change."

The report says that in 2050 average wheat yields in sub-Saharan Africa will decline by up to 22 percent as a result of climate change. Irrigation water supply is also expected to decrease and less food availability will mean on average 500 calories less per person.

Without climate change, the report projects a rise in calorie availability in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2050.

Nelson says African governments need to prioritize investment in the agriculture sector, particularly in rural roads, research and new technologies. Three months ahead of climate change talks in Copenhagen, Nelson says Africa governments should focus on helping their farmers adapt to climate change.

"As the governments of sub-Saharan Africa prepare to go to the Copenhagen negotiations they should ensure that agriculture is included both in the adaptation funding mechanisms that will come out of Copenhagen as well as allow for the possibility that mitigation funds can be used in Africa," Nelson said.

The report says an additional investment in global agriculture of $7 billion per year could increase production and counteract the adverse effects of climate change.

The report says 40 percent of this investment should go to sub-Saharan Africa.