It all starts here

Investing in the nutrition of children has the power to trigger huge social and economic changes in countries. With the right nutrients and care early on in life, a child’s brain and body are able to grow to their full potential. Children who are more developed have better life chances: they live longer and healthier lives, they do better in school, they grow into more productive adults prepared to boost a country’s economic development, and they pass good practices on to future generations. It is an investment in people that lasts and lasts.

Invisible hunger

Undernutrition is about what happens inside a child. As well as being the cause of 45% of child mortality, children lose up to 10 IQ points because they do not receive the right nutrients and care in their first 1,000 days of life. Undernourished children achieve at least a grade less in school and are a third less likely to escape poverty as adults. Unlike hunger, these effects are largely invisible and will not be solved by food alone.

Breaking the cycle

Undernutrition sustains a debilitating cycle that crosses generations. Evidence shows that undernourished girls grow into undernourished mothers, who give birth to undernourished children. And the cycle begins again. While this is a complex problem that defies a simple solution, there is a growing base of evidence around what we can do to reduce undernutrition and give children better life chances, breaking the cycle for future generations.

What countries are doing

Ethiopia

Ethiopia has halved mortality rates for children under age 5 and lowered stunting rates by a quarter over the course of a decade. This progress has been achieved by shifting the focus from food aid and humanitarian assistance to comprehensive direct nutrition interventions at the community level. These included treating severe acute malnutrition, providing micronutrient supplementation through community health days, and promoting infant and young child feeding. More support is needed to scale up these practices nationally and give more children in Ethiopia better life chances. Read more here.

India

India’s Maharashtra state, with a population of 110 million, has halved stunting rates in children in just six years. Better food, care, and health practices for these children and their mothers, and a determined focus on service delivery, led to dramatic results. Improving the quality of these practices – including complementary foods and feeding programmes – will help more children in Maharashtra reach their second birthday and serve as an example to replicate in other states. Read more here.

Senegal

Senegal has lowered mortality rates for children under age 5 by over half since the early 1990s, and has reduced stunting rates for that same population by over 30 percent over the course of a decade. Much of this progress can be attributed to a government-led nutrition program that consisted of nutrition-specific interventions. These included providing nutrition counselling and educational support to pregnant and lactating women. The program also supported nutrition-sensitive interventions like including improving water sanitation and access to health care. Senegal is one of few countries within reach of achieving the MDG to halve the rate of malnutrition. Read more here.

Unleash the power of nutrition and help the poorest countries in Africa and Asia grow their economic output by up to 11%

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