The consensus at today’s high-level meeting on “Scaling Up Nutrition” was this: the world can do better for its hungry children. Many of the Ministers and donor agency leaders who spoke at the event acknowledged the global commitment to fighting malnutrition had fallen short. As many as 3 million mothers and young children die each year due to lack of nutritious food.
OECD figures show that development aid for nutrition has been modest, with commitments of less than $300 million a year – one reason why nutrition has been labeled the “forgotten” Millennium Development Goal.
But that trend looks to be changing: donors announced two major nutrition initiatives at today’s session, and about 100 agencies and organizations recently endorsed a global Framework for Action to improve nutrition for pregnant women and children under 2.
"The effects of malnourishment can last a lifetime," Bank President Robert Zoellick said. “It’s our task to try to break the negative cycle.” Economic losses linked to malnutrition can range from 2 to 3% of country GDP—a deficit Zoellick called “huge.”
For its part, the Bank has joined the U.K.’s Department for International Development to launch a new South Asia Food and Nutrition Security initiative to tackle the “puzzle” of chronic child malnutrition in a region that has seen years of steady economic growth. The three-year program will apply multi-sector approaches to improving nutrition in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.
Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, urged development agencies to take a cross-sectoral approach to nutrition programs, taking into account agriculture and water and sanitation in tandem with traditional maternal and child health interventions. USAID’s new "Feed the Future" initiative aims to reduce hunger and undernutrition in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
"The development community dropped the ball on nutrition, but we’ve received a wake-up call in the last year," said Minouche Safik, Permanent Secretary for the U.K. Department of International Development (DFID). She said the global community could no longer ignore the "burden of evidence that investing in good nutrition is one of the most cost-effective development interventions we can make."
- Press Release
- Scaling Up Nutrition: A Framework for Action
- Video: Investing in Nutrition: Let’s Grow Together
- Photos from Scaling Up Nutrition event
Additional video highlights (wmv):