USAID Pledges to Improve Nutrition for Millions of Children and Mothers with New Approach

For Immediate Release

Thursday, May 22, 2014
USAID Press Office
202.712.4320 | Email: USAIDPressOfficers@usaid.gov | Twitter: @USAIDPress

WASHINGTON, D.C.–The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today a new effort to reduce the number of chronically malnourished or stunted children by at least 2 million over the next five years and hold global acute malnutrition below the agreed emergency threshold of 15 percent in places with humanitarian crises, like South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Overall, the new 360-degree approach unveiled today by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah will cut the rate of stunting by 20 percent in places where USAID works.

“Nothing demands more of our attention than ending preventable child and maternal death. The health of our mothers and children is the anchor of global prosperity, and that is why USAID is focusing on new, innovative ways to reduce severe malnutrition, which causes half of all child deaths worldwide,” said Shah. “With this new approach, USAID is harnessing the power of science and technology to ensure every child and mother has the nutrition they need to thrive.”

The new 360-degree approach, called the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy, will give 2 million more children a stronger start in life by integrating nutrition priorities into USAID largest programming streams—health, agriculture, and humanitarian initiatives—with a focus on results.

USAID’s approach will focus on the 1,000 days from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday—the most critical time for a child’s cognitive, intellectual, and physical development. Poor nutrition during these first 1,000 days can have negative, life-long impacts on children that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Every year, under-nutrition contributes to 3.1 million child deaths—45 percent of the worldwide total. It also costs low- and middle-income countries up to 8 percent of the economic potential. The Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy builds on the 37 percent drop in stunting seen since 1990, as well as President Obama’s commitment to create a world where every child has the potential for a healthy and productive life.

Ambassador Rice joined Administrator Shah at the 2014 Chicago Council Global Food Symposium in Washington today to launch the new effort. Shah says the new approach will bolster support for ongoing child and maternal health commitments, which aim to reach 500 million pregnant women and children under two with improved nutrition, avert 20 million additional cases of stunting, and prevent 1.7 million deaths due to poor nutrition and health—goals laid out in the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact.

The Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy commits to:

  • Set and monitor nutrition targets. USAID will aim to reduce the number of stunted children by at least 2 million, reflecting a 20 percent reduction over five years. In humanitarian crises, the strategy pledges to mitigate increases in acute malnutrition, with the goal of maintaining Global Acute Malnutrition below the emergency threshold of 15 percent.
  • Focus on high-impact actions. These actions include enhancing maternal nutrition, promoting dietary diversity in children, providing safe drinking water, teaching good hygiene like hand washing, improving community management of acute malnutrition, and increasing access to high-nutrient food.
  • Apply targeted, cost-effective solutions with private sector partners. USAID will set clear objectives in specific countries and regularly monitor our impact to improve our results. We will coordinate with the private sector across multiple sectors to improve the cost-effectiveness of nutrition funding.

USAID’s new approach builds on the success of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative and the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact. Through Feed the Future, as well as food assistance and health programming, USAID and partners have reached more than 12.5 million children with health interventions to reduce the threat of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in just the last year alone.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is leading the U.S. Government's efforts
to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies.

Last updated: October 31, 2014

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