Skip to content Skip to footer

The Power of Nutrition, The Embassy of Sweden in the DRC and GiveDirectly launch new partnership to tackle malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Pascaline Wulungu DRC

1st February 2022

Charlotte Morgan-Fallah, Associate Director, Investments, The Power of Nutrition

The Power of Nutrition is launching a new programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), partnering with the Embassy of Sweden in Kinshasa, and expert implementing partners, to deliver a multi-year, multi-phased programme that will address malnutrition in one of the world’s most vulnerable and conflict-affected countries. The first 3-year phase began in January 2022 – an innovative, $9m programme led by GiveDirectly, which will address the immediate and longer-term needs of over 2,700 vulnerable households in South Kivu, DRC, through provision of cash transfers to support resilience, food security and improved nutrition outcomes.

Additional, sustained investment is needed to address the extremely high levels of malnutrition in DRC. The Power of Nutrition is actively seeking additional funding partners to help expand this programme to a second phase, which will encompass health and nutrition service delivery (including immunisation) and health system strengthening; demand creation and social and behaviour change; and complementary, multisectoral components such as Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

We are excited to be part of this initiative because of its innovative and multifaceted approach. The number of malnourished children in the DRC needs to come down fast and we are confident that this will make a substantive contribution to achieving that.

Joachim Beijmo, Head of Development Cooperation for Sweden in the DRC

The DRC continues to face a complex and deep humanitarian and development crisis. Armed conflict, displacement, epidemics, natural disasters, and the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 have considerably exacerbated already existing vulnerabilities, in a context marked by a lack of access to essential services and high levels of poverty. As a result:

  • Infant and child mortality rates in the DRC remain among the highest in the world, and approximately 45% of all deaths of children under five are linked to malnutrition.[1]
  • DRC has a consistently high rate of severe wasting (2% in 2018) equal to the emergency threshold set out by the World Health Organisation. This represents over 1 million children under five affected by severe wasting, with life-threatening consequences.
  • Stunting rates are some of the highest in the world and, unlike other countries in Africa, have not decreased in the past 20 years. Levels have remained alarmingly above the critical threshold of 30% established by the World Health Organization – almost one in two children under five in the DRC are stunted, representing 7.7 million children.[2] The alarmingly high stunting levels have lifelong impacts on children’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. This ultimately affects educational outcomes, livelihoods prospects, and the economic development of the DRC and exacerbates the country’s inter-generational cycle of malnutrition and poverty.

Addressing immediate and longer-term needs

Food insecurity is a major driver of poor nutrition outcomes. DRC is currently experiencing the largest hunger crisis in the world in absolute numbers, with over 27 million people acutely food insecure.[3]

This is where this programme comes in. Led by GiveDirectly – an innovator and expert in cash transfer programming – the first phase of this programme seeks to strengthen resilience among some of the most vulnerable households in South Kivu, DRC. The programme will deliver an innovative, blended approach of monthly and lump-sum cash transfers, enabling and empowering vulnerable households to address their immediate and longer-term food security needs, resulting in increased resilience and improved nutrition outcomes. Over 2,700 households with pregnant women and/or children under 5 will receive lump-sum cash transfers of around US$530, followed by two years of monthly transfers of US$40. This sustained financing will enable families to access a greater quantity and diversity of foods, address other critical needs (such as healthcare), as well as invest in livelihoods to support longer-term food security and improved nutrition outcomes.

We are honoured to partner with the Power of Nutrition and Sida to fight malnutrition in one of the most food-insecure places on earth. This programme’s unique combination of large, lump-sum cash transfers, followed by two years of monthly instalments is expected to spur capital investment, reduce economic barriers to accessing public goods such as health care, and enable families to afford adequate, diverse, and nutritious diets. We are excited that The Power of Nutrition’s new Future Direction Strategy envisions an ambitious multisectoral approach to nutrition programming, including social protection in the form of cash transfers. We are thrilled to be an official Power of Nutrition implementing partner, and look forward to bringing new funding sources and operational models to tackle malnutrition in DRC.

Stella Luk, Regional Director, GiveDirectly

We are excited to launch the first phase, but the programme cannot and will not stop there. The needs in DRC are huge, and the opportunities for impact are great.

The Power of Nutrition is already working with partners to develop the second, overlapping phase of the programme, which seeks to strengthen health and nutrition service delivery in South Kivu, Kasai and Kwilu (three provinces where nutrition outcomes are among the worst in DRC). It will stimulate demand creation and improved nutrition practices through social and behaviour change, and support an enabling environment for health and nutrition through advocacy and systems strengthening at national and provincial government levels. The comprehensive second phase also harmonises with the first phase by continuing to deliver social protection and food system strengthening, while incorporating multisectoral components in recognition of the multiple drivers of malnutrition.

A truly holistic programme, working across sectors and systems for improved, joint outcomes, is not possible without the contributions and expertise of a broad range of partners, all convening to support the Government of DRC to deliver for its people.

However, with overseas aid for nutrition projected to continue to decline until the end of the decade, and needs ever increasing, new and innovative funding for nutrition is needed now more than ever. We cannot count on ‘traditional’ sources and modalities alone. The Power of Nutrition is therefore actively seeking innovative funding partners to invest in this next phase programme.

We are proud to partner with Sida (through the Embassy of Sweden in Kinshasa) and GiveDirectly and we look forward to expanding our collaboration further, for greater collective impact for the women and children of DRC.

[1] Levels & Trends in Estimates Child Mortality, UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, Report 2019-2020.

[2] World Food Programme, DRC Country Profile

[3] World Food Programme, DRC Country Profile

You may also be interesting in...

Website headers 5

How our programme in Côte d’Ivoire proves being led by local partners with a multisectoral approach is at the heart of success


As we approach the end of this multisectoral nutrition and child development programme, it was great to see what they have achieved, learn more about the current priorities, and discuss sustainability and their plans for the future.

Davos Gavi TPON breakfast

Gavi, Unilever Lifebuoy and The Power of Nutrition join forces in tripartite immunisation, handwashing and nutrition programme to tackle preventable diseases


Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Unilever’s germ-protecting soap brand Lifebuoy and The Power of Nutrition, a global charitable foundation advancing the fight against malnutrition, have launched an innovative multisectoral partnership to protect young children from illnesses, malnutrition and premature death in Indonesia.