improving nutrition | Action Against Hunger

How will the UK Government improve the nutrition of 50 million people?

Our new report looks at how the UK Government could improve the nutrition of 50 million people over the next five years

By Sabrina de Souza

Nov 17 2015

Malnutrition is not a new issue. But it was only a few short years ago that the world started to wake up to plight that is malnutrition. The UK was among many countries, governments and donors who acknowledged that this issue could not continue to be ignored, and set about how they would tackle malnutrition in the countries where they worked.

In just five years, between 2011 and 2015, the UK Government planned to reach 20 million children with nutrition interventions. But by 2015 the Department for International Development (DFID), who lead on the UK’s work to end extreme poverty, had in fact reached 8.5 million more beneficiaries than originally planned. This is great work by the UK, who has been a vital actor in the fight against childhood hunger and malnutrition.

But in just a few short months we will reach then end of 2015 and the end of the UK’s plan for how they will tackle hunger and malnutrition in the world. The world and the UK has made  promising progress on preventing and treating malnutrition, but there are still 795 million people who go to bed hungry, and malnutrition continues to rob millions of children of their childhood and their opportunities. The job is far from done. So what next?

The good news is that during the General Election the Conservative Government committed, in their manifesto, to step up their work on nutrition, specifically to “improve the nutrition for at least 50 million people, who would otherwise go hungry”. Achieving this will be a critical contribution towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to “end all forms of malnutrition” by 2030.

This is more ambitious than the UK has ever been before and the DFID will need to consider how they will deliver this important commitment, so that millions of families will have access to the nutrition they need to not only survive, but thrive.

Our latest report – Increasing the UK’s contribution to tackling malnutrition – in partnership with Concern Worldwide and RESULTS UK, recommends that DFID release a new strategy to guide how it will contribute to tackling malnutrition over the next five years. This report captures the contributions made by DFID in preventing and treating malnutrition globally and makes recommendations about how we think DFID could shape its future programmes and priorities to have the biggest impact possible. This includes:

  • Addressing malnutrition in all its forms. This means going beyond efforts to eliminate stunting in isolation, but to also tackle wasting and hidden hunger, and even emerging issues in development such as obesity.
  • Not delivering nutrition support as lone interventions, but as packages of high impact, proven interventions to tackle the immediate causes of malnutrition.
  • Doubling the aid that goes to tackling the immediate causes of malnutrition so that ut makes up at least 25% of DFIDs nutrition-related work.
  • Better integrating nutrition into other sectors, including reproductive health services, to address the underlying causes of malnutrition.
  • Implementing the ‘leave no on behind’ principle by delivering interventions to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized people, irrespective of where they live. This includes the poorest household, those in rural areas, women and adolescents, and even those in middle-income-countries who do not contribute or benefit from the economic growth of their country. 
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*Wasting is the result of rapid and severe weight loss and is the most deadly form of malnutrition.

**Hidden hunger occurs when a person lacks the vitamins and minerals they need to live a healthy life. It has no visible warning signs, so that people who suffer from it may not even be aware of it. Its consequences are nevertheless disastrous: hidden hunger can lead to mental impairment, poor health and productivity, or even death.

Photo credit: Sanjit Das for Results UK / Action Against Hunger, Nepal