Today, undernutrition is the single greatest threat to child survival worldwide and the underlying cause of nearly half of all child deaths. Evidence proves that good nutrition in the first 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child's second birthday - the critical window of opportunity - builds a strong immune system, ensures healthy physical and intellectual development, and "supercharges" a child's chances of survival.
Action Against Hunger's expertise in preventing and treating undernutrition is internationally renowned, thanks to our 40 years of operational experience in areas of the world where hunger is most severe and entrenched. We have contributed to the development of revolutionary nutrition products and conducted field testing of treatment protocols that are now international best practice.
From isolated rural communities to overcrowded urban slums to refugee camps, Action Against Hunger works to prevent and treat undernutrition in more than 45 countries around the world. We work in humanitarian emergencies and in more stable contexts to improve the health and survival of the most vulnerable children under the age of five, as well as pregnant women and nursing mothers.
In 2019, our nutrition, health, and care programs reached more than 8.8 million people in need around the world.
What We Do
Gather, Analyze, and Share Data on Undernutrition
To determine prevalence and the root causes of undernutrition in each local context, we analyze both indirect and direct factors and conduct rigorous assessments. Gathering, analyzing, and sharing this data is essential to guiding an effective, relevant response.
Treat Acute Undernutrition
We refer acutely malnourished children who show signs of complications for inpatient treatment. We provide local, accessible, easy-to-reach outpatient treatment for acutely malnourished children without medical complications through a highly effective approach known as Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM).
We work to prevent chronic and acute undernutrition through an integrated approach that addresses both the direct and underlying causes. In emergencies, we work to ensure that vulnerable children under five, pregnant women, and nursing mothers have access to supplementary food to meet their nutritional needs and prevent them from becoming undernourished.
We also work to educate and support mothers about the importance of breastfeeding for the first six months, and work to improve care and feeding practices to ensure that children from six months to five years of age receive adequate micronutrients and protein for healthy development. Our programs also provide pregnant women and new mothers with peer support groups, facilitated by heath workers, to encourage and promote good nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and care practices for mothers, infants, and young children.
Strengthen Local Capacity and Build Resilience
We train local health care workers and partners to screen and treat undernutrition, and we provide technical expertise and support to strengthen local health systems. In severe humanitarian emergencies, we sometimes directly deliver emergency nutrition programs to provide lifesaving treatment to acutely undernourished children, but our aim is to transfer our knowledge, work in partnership with communities, and strengthen what is already working via local health care services to ensure sustainable impact. We also work in more stable contexts, and after crises subside, to build communities' resilience to hunger and mitigate the causes and consequences of undernutrition.
- At least 14 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition around the world.
- When a child under five dies, malnutrition is a root cause nearly half of the time.
- In less than a decade, the number of acutely malnourished children receiving treatment globally has quintupled: increasing from just over one million in 2009 to more than five million in 2018. Still, just a quarter of acutely malnourished children worldwide currently have access to treatment.
- $45 can provide a full course of life-saving treatment for an undernourished child.