Development Progress Through Better Nutrition
June 26,2013
Improving nutrition is one of the best ways to achieve lasting progress in development. “Ensuring that a child receives adequate nutrition, particularly in the critical 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday, can yield dividends for a lifetime as a well-nourished child will perform better in school, more effectively fight off disease, and even earn more as an adult. Nutrition is central to ending preventable child death,” wrote United States Agency for International Development, or USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah in a recent blog posting. Nonetheless, some 165 million children suffer from chronic undernutrition, contributing to 3.1 million child deaths every year, while leaving many of those children that do survive permanently impaired and unable to reach their full potential. A child that suffers from malnutrition is at an increased risk of contracting childhood illnesses, as well as long-term chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer later in life. Such a child will find learning more difficult. As an adult, he or she will be less productive, will earn less money, and will contribute less to the community and to his or her country. That is why the United States is a long-time leader in providing food aid, agricultural development, and nutrition programming where it is most needed, from delivering emergency food aid, to helping farmers and their families grow and consume greater quantities and more nutritious foods. In fact, nutrition is the defining link between the Global Health and Feed the Future Presidential Initiatives. “We have nearly doubled nutrition-specific funding through our global health programs and we have tripled agriculture funding since 2008, targeting our investments where we can deliver meaningful impact,” said Dr. Shah. “We’ve also been a strong supporter of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which funds country priorities in agricultural development and nutrition.” In early June, Dr. Shah announced that over fiscal years 2012-2014, the United States Government will provide more than $1 billion for nutrition-specific interventions, as well as nearly $9 billion for nutrition-sensitive activities. These investments will help prevent stunting in some 2 million children. “In a world of plentiful, nutritious foods and advanced science, [undernutrition in children] is unacceptable,” said Dr. Shah. “We can do better. And we can do it together.”