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Food & Hunger

Fight For Global Nutrition Not Over After Disappointment in Rio

World Vision

This article was contributed in support of World Vision, written by Dr. Mesfin Teklu, World Vision’s Vice President for Health and Nutrition.

Rio de Janeiro is getting a lot of attention this week as athletes prepare for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games. But the Nutrition for Growth event, hosted by the Government of Brazil, is why I’m in Rio representing World Vision.

While we were pleased that the long-awaited Nutrition for Growth event was held in Rio on August 4 and take note of the leadership of the Brazilian Government in hosting this, we were disappointed that that there was no announcement of a future pledging moment for new and improved commitments to ensure food security and nutrition.

If a child doesn’t receive enough nutrition in the first 1,000 days of their lives their full potential will never be realized. Unfortunately, malnutrition still claims the lives of nearly 3 million children under age 5 every year while undermining the potential of millions more.

Ahead of this event, which happens every four years on the sidelines of the  Summer Olympics, World Vision joined many other organizations calling on world leaders to make new commitments that would improve nutrition for millions of children by scaling up efforts towards the global targets for nutrition. World Vision contributed to this movement by spearheading a social media campaign,  leveraging #Nutrition4Gold, a targeted campaign on Twitter that reached an audience of more than 36 million.

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In the end, the Nutrition for Growth event was a missed opportunity to use the global energy generated by the Olympics as a starting gun for getting on track to meet the global nutrition targets agreed upon by all countries. We know that investing in nutrition pays off, saving children’s lives, protecting their potential, and boosting economies. Every $1 invested in proven nutrition programmes returns $16 of benefits. Despite this, too little is currently spent on nutrition and we urgently need to scale up investment at all levels, coordinated across sectors and stakeholders.

Despite Nutrition For Growth’s false start in Rio, we will return to the running blocks more focused, determined, and energized than before.  We, in collaboration with partners, will continue to push for a fair start to a 2017 pledging moment and the lives of millions of children around the world. For this to happen, we must bring together world leaders to make new, ambitious commitments for nutrition, and accelerate progress towards our collective goals of ending hunger and malnutrition.

It’s not too late. Tell world leaders to come together to increase financial investments in nutrition, scale up interventions that are proven to work, and target the most vulnerable in the hardest places to ensure the right start and a #hungerfree future for all children!