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New Report Shows Inadequacies of Aid Investment in Nutrition

Only one percent of the funds needed to combat global undernutrition are being delivered
A child is tested for malnutrition
A child receives a middle upper arm test for malnutrition. Photo: ACF-Uganda, T. Frank
  • A child is tested for malnutrition
  • Working with a community
  • A child eats Plumpy'nut

We’re about to reach a critical moment in combating the hunger crisis. Key conversations will be happening. The maternal- and child-health focused 1,000 Days will host the Scaling Up Nutrition: Calling All Champions briefing in Washington on the eve of the G8 Summit, May 17th. President Obama has invited African leaders to join leaders at the G-8 at Camp David on May 19th for a discussion on accelerating progress on food security in Africa. 1,000 Days will also host a summit in Chicago on May 21st, where our Board Chair Ray Debbane will speak. These are critical conversations, and we have a whole lot to say—much of it anchored in our major new report, Aid for Nutrition.

The report shows that funding for undernutrition programs represents a mere one percent of the estimated $11.8 billion that is needed annually, funding levels that remained unchanged between 2005 and 2009. And 11 percent of government and international funding commitments went unfunded.

Action Against Hunger’s latest report provides a detailed analysis on aid reporting systems, assesses the transparency, quantity and effectiveness of nutrition funding in recent years, and provides recommendations on what is needed to adequately address undernutrition.

Funding for nutrition programs that deliver the full package of direct nutrition interventions, which address the more immediate elements of undernutrition and have the greatest potential for reducing child mortality and future disease burdens associated with undernutrition, were severely underfunded, receiving only two percent of the total funding earmarked for nutrition. Evidence also showed that the aid could be better directed to where needed most in the worst-affected regions of Africa and Asia. Another finding was that much of the data used in the analysis was inaccessible due to poor reporting by government agencies, suggesting a lack of transparency in nutrition funding and highlighting the need for more accountability.

Aid For Nutrition highlights the worrying lack of investment in direct nutrition interventions. If international donors are committed to scaling up nutrition interventions, they must act now and provide adequate funds to meet what is required.”

Sandra Mutuma, Senior Nutrition Advisor, Action Against Hunger UK

Another concern the report raised has to do with the reactive and short-term nature of those nutrition programs that are funded—largely in response to emergencies, with few resources dedicated to longer-term development programs that address structural issues alongside lifesaving activities.

Drawing from the evidence gathered in Aid For Nutrition, Action Against Hunger’s recommendations include the following:

  • Government funders must improve their reporting and transparency.
  • Investments in nutrition-specific interventions must be dramatically increased. The links between health and nutrition need to be better understood and supported by donor and recipient governments.
  • Greater investments are needed in the treatment and prevention of undernutrition in both emergency and non-emergency contexts.
  • A comprehensive, independent annual review is needed to assess government investments in nutrition, both to ensure greater accountability and to monitor commitments to scaling up nutrition.

Publication: Aid for Nutrition

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