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Protesters in Tunisia halt key phosphate production Demonstrators calling for jobs launched sit-ins at state-run Gafsa Phospate, the sole national producer of the mineral. Protesters calling for jobs demonstrated on Wednesday launching sit-ins at state-run Gafsa Phospate [File: Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters] Protesters calling for jobs stopped Tunisia’s entire phosphate output on Wednesday useful content by launching sit-ins at the sole producer of the key export during a day of strikes and protests around the country, officials and witnesses told Reuters News Agency. State-run Gafsa Phospate was once one of the world’s largest producers of phosphate minerals, which are used to make fertilisers and is an important source of foreign currency for the North African state. The open-ended sit-ins increased pressure on the government amid a wave of protests a decade after a 2011 uprising that ended the rule of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and triggered Arab Spring protests across the region. Tunisia’s phosphate output fell after the uprising and localised protests and strikes have since steadily cut into production and caused billions of dollars in losses. In the southern town of Gafsa, dozens of young men earlier stormed the governorate headquarters, demanding jobs. Workers in the northern city of Beja also staged a one-day general strike, with all shops and public private institutions closed. The government has pledged to respond to the demands of marginalised regions, but is facing its worst-ever financial crisis with a budget deficit expected to reach 11.4 percent of GDP.


Highly variable childhood nutrition, especially a lack of quality food, may lead to stunted growth and a rise in childhood obesity – affecting a child’s health and wellbeing for their entire life, the authors believe. “Our findings should motivate policies that increase the availability and reduce the cost of nutritious foods, as this will help children grow taller without gaining excessive weight for their height,” said Dr Andrea Rodriguez Martinez, the study’s lead author. The study suggests initiatives such as food vouchers towards nutritious foods for low-income families, as well as free healthy school meal programmes – which are particularly under threat during the pandemic. Global nutrition policies should also pay more attention to the growth patterns of older children, rather than focusing on under-fives, the authors said in their study. Stunting, wasting and obesity caused by lack of nutrition or disease or both was analyzed in March by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the World Bank Group . Their joint malnutrition estimates found that in 2019, 47 million children under five were suffering from wasting – and 14.3 million were severely wasted. Wasting is a life-threatening form of malnutrition, which makes children too thin and weak, and puts them at greater risk of dying, poor growth, development and learning, according to UNICEF . Coronavirus is heightening this nutrition crisis. In July, UNICEF warned that an additional 6.7 million children under five could suffer from wasting in 2020 due to COVID-19, 80% of them from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. “Household poverty and food insecurity rates have increased.