At the 2021 Nutrition for Growth Summit, USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced that the United States intends to invest up to $11 billion over three years, subject to Congressional appropriations, to combat global malnutrition—the underlying cause of almost half of childhood deaths globally. From 2010 to 2017, the United States invested more than $19 billion dollars in nutrition programs, one of the highest figures of any global donor.
The planned assistance announced today will enable the U.S. government to equip partner countries’ governments and communities with the skills and resources for improved health, diets, and nutrition and reflects USAID’s continued commitment to supporting communities in crisis with critical emergency food and nutrition assistance. The investments will help build resilient health systems and sustainable food systems to overcome setbacks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, global climate crisis, and recurring conflict—to ultimately prevent more children from falling into malnutrition.
Over the past three decades, with USAID support, more than 100 million children have escaped the devastating and lasting effects of poor nutrition. In Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, USAID programs to promote exclusive breastfeeding—the single most effective intervention to reduce preventable child deaths—have supported communities to substantially increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding. Ensuring the survival and well-being of newborns, children, and women remains an urgent global challenge that good nutrition can help solve.
During the Summit, Administrator Power shared highlights from the newly launched U.S. government Global Nutrition Coordination Plan 2021-2026, which guides the collaborative work of twelve U.S. government departments and agencies engaged in scaling up proven approaches to better nutrition.
Collectively, these announcements reassert America’s commitment and leadership to ending malnutrition, improving diets, preventing child and maternal deaths, and helping advance the World Health Assembly’s global nutrition targets and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
As part of this global announcement, USAID made several commitments including:
- Expanding Data Availability and Use: In partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO), USAID will strengthen nutrition information systems, sub-national nutrition data availability, and capacity building for nutrition data use. Stronger data and data systems will enable donors, practitioners, and governments to better design, monitor, and evaluate nutrition programs targeting vulnerable populations in development and humanitarian settings. Timely and credible nutrition data on coverage, quality, scale, and nutrition outcomes are paramount for decision-makers to understand the nutrition burden and track progress towards key milestones.
- Prevention and Treatment of Wasting: USAID will strengthen approaches to the prevention and treatment of wasting—when a child is too thin for his or her height as a result of recent rapid weight loss or the failure to gain weight. The commitment builds off USAID’s extensive wasting programming in emergency contexts to address the significant burden in non-emergency contexts, consistent with the Global Action Plan for Child Wasting.
- Breastfeeding for Maternal and Newborn Care: USAID, WHO, and UNICEF will partner over the next five years to improve nutrition and health outcomes for mothers and newborns by scaling up quality breastfeeding promotion and support in health facilities and communities. This partnership will provide technical assistance for governments and local organizations to support country-led, comprehensive approaches that increase access to skilled breastfeeding counseling and deliver quality services at baby-friendly healthcare facilities.
- Nourishing Food Systems: USAID will expand large-scale food fortification to deliver essential vitamins and minerals through global leadership, context-specific expertise, and partnerships with governments, the private sector, and civil society. Working with the Eleanor Crook Foundation and the Nutritious Foods Financing Facility, USAID will address the financing gap for small and medium enterprises producing nutritious foods, which often lack access to the capital needed to improve and grow.
By investing in locally-designed and led programs; placing the needs of women and children at the center of our multi-sectoral response to malnutrition; and generating, sharing, and applying knowledge and evidence of what works; the United States will accelerate progress toward shared global nutrition goals.