World Food Day: The State of Global Malnutrition

Action Against Hunger calls on donors to prioritize the treatment of malnutrition

Since 1980 when the UN first celebrated World Food Day, October 16th has served as a day to “heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.” Action Against Hunger marks the day by renewing its call for governments, foundations, and private philanthropists around the globe to join us and our colleagues in our efforts to eliminate hunger.

While UNICEF’s recent report touts the measurable progress in reducing child mortality— thanks, in part, to organizations like Action Against Hunger—the stark fact remains: Far too many young lives are being lost because of malnutrition. And most of these premature deaths could be prevented if the global community were to join together in prioritizing the treatment of malnutrition.

As our colleagues at Doctors Without Borders recently decried, global efforts aimed at childhood malnutrition reach only 3% of the estimated 20 million children who suffer from severe malnourishment. We applaud Doctors Without Borders for joining us in tackling this issue; it’s an outrage that results in 3.5 to 5 million preventable deaths every year.

We urge the international community to prioritize severe malnutrition—the underlying cause of over half of all childhood deaths—by investing in the most effective programs and strategies. To be effective, programs must target the most vulnerable; be sustainable over time; avoid one-size-fits-all solutions; engage communities in building a sense of ownership and harnessing their participation; cultivate local capacities; and coordinate with a broad range of partners like local governments, national health ministries, UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations.

On World Food Day 2007, Action Against Hunger renews its call to individuals, foundations, corporations, governments, and international agencies to scale-up funding for effective malnutrition programs. Reinforcing Action Against Hunger’s efforts—and those of our colleague agencies—is one immediate way to improve conditions for vulnerable people around the world.

Background on World Food Day World Food Day celebrates the founding of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on October 16, 1945. Observed by 150 countries, World Food Day provides an opportunity for dialogue and solidarity on hunger issues around the world. The theme for 2007 is “The Right to Food,” which refers to everyone’s right to sufficient quantities of nutritionally adequate, culturally acceptable foods.