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Food & Hunger

Here's Why Malnutrition is 100% Preventable

World Vision/Jon Warren

Dear Movers & Shakers,

Don’t miss this golden opportunity to end hunger and malnutrition!

Raise your hand if you’re passionate about equal opportunities for all children! Hopefully, you just physically raised their hands in front of your computer or iPhone, or even Android. Now, keep your hand up if you’re also an action taker. You’re a mover and shaker and here is your golden opportunity to take action and shake the foundations of malnutrition!

The reality is that nearly 3 million children under the age of five are still dying every year from malnutrition.

But guess what? We are finally in a position to create some real change! Malnutrition is 100% preventable. Making significant progress towards realising a hunger-free world in our lifetime is both realistic and affordable. World leaders need to step up to support nutrition through smart funding and policies to make it happen. And we need all global citizens to call on world leaders to make it so.

Just as Olympians get ready for the Olympics, world leaders will gather at the Nutrition for Growth event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is an important step in solving the olympic-sized problem of world hunger and malnutrition.

Photo12.jpgImage: World Vision/Jon Warren

Ultimately, the choice to solve these challenges is a political one. So, here is what we are calling on these leaders to do:

1. Increase financial investment in nutrition across sectors.

The choice to end malnutrition is a political one. Nutrition budgets and investments need to increase for any chance of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. Tackling nutrition requires a multi-sectoral approach and coordination of efforts across Health, Education and Agriculture Ministries, among others. We can not scale up proven programmes or target the most vulnerable without financial investment. Nutrition is everyone’s responsibility. Stakeholders across all sectors — from health, social welfare, agriculture and education, who believe this — must take their responsibility seriously. 

7-1.Tweet.jpgImage: World Vision/Jon Warren

2. Scale up what works and embed nutrition in health, education & agriculture national plans.

We can increase nourishment if we scale up proven interventions that have already benefitted women and children in many communities around the world. This just makes sense, why reinvent the wheel? These interventions address the direct causes of undernutrition, like dietary intake, feeding practices, and access to food. Beyond that, proven interventions that address the underlying causes of malnutrition are vital.  Agriculture, social welfare, education, women's empowerment, water, sanitation and hygiene all influence if a child has enough of the right food for today, and tomorrow. So, these sectors must have a hunger-free world in mind when developing programmes.

We know that focusing interventions on women and children in the first 1,000 days - from conception through a child’s second birthday -  maximizes impact. This includes interventions that support mothers before they are pregnant, in particular adolescent girls, to break the cycle of poverty that is passed down by generations. We know delivering interventions to women and children across a variety of channels works. We need to maximise coverage of postnatal care, community-based services, markets and public campaigns to ensure we target these golden opportunities as much as possible.

Photo4.jpgImage: World Vision/Jon Warren

3. Target the most vulnerable children in the hardest to reach places.

Through the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders have already pledged to ‘leave no one behind,’ and ‘to reach the furthest behind first.’ There are groups of people who suffer more than most. We must work together to prioritise the most vulnerable. Many of the hundreds of millions of children who have been left behind fit into one or more of these groups:

The unregistered: children not registered at birth

The missed: newborns who die in childbirth

The isolated: indigenous children and ethnic minorities

The untraced: child laborers and trafficked children

The neglected: orphaned and homeless children

The unclaimed: refugee, stateless and displaced children

The unacknowledged: children living with disabilities

As global citizens, it is our responsibility to support the most vulnerable to survive and thrive.

This is our golden opportunity

On August 4, just as the world’s top athletes gather at the Olympics, world leaders are also gathering at the Nutrition for Growth event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is a golden opportunity for world leaders to scale up their commitment to creating a hunger-free world.

Thank you for joining us and acting on nutrition!

On behalf of fellow mover and shakers everywhere,