Fighting Hunger WorldwideWFP and NutritionRight Food at the Right Time
Right Food at the Right TimeNearly 200 million children under five in the developing world are chronicallyundernourished or stunted, while the number of underweight children is close to130 million. 1 By maximising the nutritional impact of its food assistance programmes tomore than 90 million people every year, WFP has a unique opportunity to strengthenthe next generation as we fight hunger and malnutrition worldwide.Scientific evidence has shown that chronic undernutrition in the first two years of lifeleads to irreversible damage, meaning that children may never reach their full mental andphysical potential. Poor nutrition can affect school performance, economic productivityand earning power in adult life.But the battle against child undernutrition is urgent and winnable. There is a window ofopportunity from conception to two years old when good nutrition can make all thedifference. We need to build and nourish the next generation.Feed People Better, Feed PeopleSmarterWFP’s new and improved approach to tackling childundernutrition emphasises prevention, especiallyamong children under two. And WFP is targeting itsfood interventions to make sure that children, andadults, get the right food at the right time.WFP’s ability to deliver the optimum food/nutritionbalance has — until relatively recently — beenlimited to basic food commodities such as cereals,fortified cereal flours, oil (fortified with vitamins Aand D), pulses, sugar and iodized salt, alongsidemore specialised fortified blended foods such ascorn-soya blend (CSB).Now, WFP is:• improving the quality of the fortified blended foodswe provide• developing formulas for micronutrient powders forhome fortification• exploring how to fortify staple foods such as rice• piloting the use of ready-to-use foods forpreventing or treating moderate acute malnutrition• exploring the option of complementary foodsupplements.WFP Steps Up to the NutritionChallengeWFP is rapidly expanding the number ofyoung children, pregnant women andnursing mothers receiving nutritionallyenhanced foods. WFP increased the numberof children in the critical under-two agegroup it reached with specialised nutritionproducts from 55,000 in 2008 to more than2.5 million in 2010 – a 45-fold increase.WFP/Shezad Noorani/Bangladesh1 Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition, UNICEF, 11 Nov. 2009
Maximising the Nutritional Impact ofour Food InterventionsThe world has the knowledge and technology tomake huge strides in eradicating malnutrition, usingproducts and services available today, or innovatingnew ones for tomorrow. WFP is taking advantage ofrecent advances in science and technology, such asprogress in the areas of fortification as well as theproduction of ready-to-use foods (RUFs). We areemploying new technologies to maximize thenutritional outcomes of the food we provide.WFP/Shezad Noorani/BangladeshIn Emergencies, More Lives can beSaved with the Delivery of Life-savingMicronutrientsMissing nutrition targets in emergency situationsmeans possibly losing an entire generation andhampering long-term development of the country.WFP/Hilary Heuler/Cape VerdeInvesting in Children is Investing inthe FutureChildren who suffered from chronic malnutritionwhen they were small may live with a high risk ofchronic conditions, such as diabetes andcardiovascular disease, in later life. The health carecosts of treating such diseases, as well as the lossesto national economic prosperity, are much higherthan the sum needed to invest in preventingundernutrition in the first few years of life.Treatment of malnutrition is getting easier — newfood-based nutrition interventions have beendeveloped, such as ready-to-use therapeutic foodsfor severe acute malnutrition.Growing interest in tackling child hunger isprompting the development of new food-basedproducts to treat and prevent forms ofundernutrition.When a child under two chronically lacks the rightnutrition, mental and physical damage isirreversible. This lack of nutrition makes the childmore susceptible to illness throughout his or her lifeand a less productive member of society. And duringemergencies, not only does the vulnerability ofchildren increase, but the incidence of diseasealso goes up. This is a double threat to health andwell-being.Micronutrient PowderIn many developing countries, where diets are notdiverse, children often fail to receive essentialmicronutrients required for healthy growth anddevelopment. Through home-fortificationprogrammes, WFP provides families withMicronutrient Powder (MNP), which contains thevitamins and minerals essential for bodily functions,growth and immunity. They are sprinkled on foodjust before eating. In 2010, WFP used MNPs in overten countries, including in some school feedingprogrammes. Preliminary evaluations in Haiti foundthat anaemia prevalence fell 30 percent amongchildren under two where MNPs were used.
‘We have shown that the evidence for benefitsfrom nutrition interventions is convincing.What is needed is the technical expertise andthe political will to combat undernutritionin the very countries that need it most.’UK medical journal, The Lancet, ‘Maternal and ChildUndernutrition’Building Partnerships for BetterNutritionWFP recognizes that food can make an evengreater impact on the lives of people when it ispart of a food, health care and service deliverypackage. Partnerships with governments, UNagencies, NGOs, private sector companies,policy institutions and private foundations aretherefore central to WFP playing its part indelivering the best nutrition possible.Our partnerships with the private sector havebeen critical in the recent development of newnutritionally-enhanced food products.Partnerships facilitate the use of innovativeapproaches and techniques to developappropriate, safe and effective nutritioninterventions. Partnering with the private sectorhas also been a powerful tool in WFP’s jointadvocacy efforts to fight hunger andundernutrition.deep-field presence allows us to engage withhost governments and partner organisations atthe local and national level to develop effectiveand appropriate policies and programmes.A groundbreaking example of an effectivecountry-level coordination process is theREACH partnership, which WFP currentlyhosts at its headquarters. Jointly established byFAO, UNICEF, WFP and WHO in 2008,REACH facilitates a country-led process forcomprehensive needs assessments, advocacy,action planning, and coordination amongststakeholders to deliver an integrated multiinterventionapproach to address childhoodundernutrition.Working with Private Partners:The Case of Project Laser BeamProject Laser Beam (PLB) harnesses the powerof global, regional and local companies to worktogether with the UN to radically reduce childundernutrition. Initially focusing on Bangladeshand Indonesia, this US$50 million, five-yearpilot project will combat undernutritionthrough food, hygiene and behavioural change.The aim is to create a sustainable, scalableand replicable model that will target similarpopulations in need across the globe.P1001/B Printed: May 2011 Cover Photo: WFP/Shehzad Noorani/BangladeshAt the country level, bringing together all mainstakeholders has proven beneficial inmaximising nutrition results, and is more costeffective in the long-term. Our extensive‘We know why we need to improvenutrition for all children. We know how.Now we need to unite and do it.’Josette Sheeran, WFP Executive DirectorIn 2009, the World Bank estimated that justUS$11.8 billion would be needed annually tomeet the needs of the world’s undernourished.Just US$3.6 billion of this would give allchildren 6-23 months the micronutrientfortified or enhanced complementary foodsthey need to prevent and treat moderatemalnutrition.WFP/Maxime Bessieres/GuatemalaMay 2011For more information: wfp.org/nutritionWorld Food Programme Via C.G. Viola, 68/70 - 00148 Rome, Italy