People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

SUMMARY

Algeria is a country with a land area of more than 2 million km². The coastal zone which represents 10% of the land area but comprises 80% of the population, enjoys favorable conditions in terms of climate and infrastructure, although some disparities exist between the urban and rural sectors. Urbanization and emigration remain important because of insecurity in the rural sector, land tenure problems and unemployment. The rest of the country, comprising 90% of the land area, is arid and its population is scattered, rural and poor. Diverse nutrition problems affect this population but undernutrition is predominant.

Algeria is heavily dependent on food imports. The fall in the price of fossil fuel in 1986 caused a sharp reduction in population living standards. Although the proportion of the population under the national poverty line is declining, an inequitable distribution of resources and an increase in unemployment have impoverished the middle class.  

Although health service infrastructure and personnel have increased, access to specialized medical care is still limited in rural areas. Maternal and underfive mortality rates have declined but remain at a high level. Tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases are re-emerging or persisting.

The dietary energy supply exceeds population energy requirements. Cereals, vegetable oils and sweeteners represent three-quarters of the energy supply. Although the food diversity index has increased the quality of the diet is still inadequate. The high share of the energy dense food groups (cereals, oil, sweeteners) could be responsible for the emergence of overweight and obesity.

The nutrition situation of underfives is a matter of concern. One child in 10 is underweight and one in five is stunted. Malnutrition is prevalent among the population of the south, where low population density and poverty increase problems of access to health care. Inadequate infant and young child feeding practices, notably the very low rate of exclusive breastfeeding and the high rate of bottle-feeding are important causes of malnutrition which could be limited if promotion of appropriate infant feeding practices was reinforced.   

Overweight affects young children mostly in the urban sector but is also emerging in the rural population, indicating that the nutrition transition affects all sectors of the population. Moreover, prevalence of overweight and obesity appears high among adults.

Micronutrient deficiencies are common. The prevalence of goitre remains high. Better monitoring of salt iodization and better coverage of the population are needed. Vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in the population of the South to whom supplementation campaigns are currently being directed. Almost a third of rural women are anemic; therefore extended interventions for combating and preventing iron deficiency anemia are needed.

© FAO 2010