Creating a Better Way to Deal with Hunger

Action Against Hunger leads a movement to double the number of malnourished children who receive lifesaving treatment

For nearly 40 years, Action Against Hunger has been dedicated to a single mission: to find the best solutions to hunger and malnutrition. We are the world’s hunger specialist. And we are never satisfied – on World Food Day and every day, we work to create better ways to fight hunger.

When the medical community didn’t have a cure, we created it. Our team of scientists helped develop F100, the first-ever therapeutic formula to treat the deadliest form of hunger: severe acute malnutrition. When ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) - an even more effective treatment for malnourished children - was invented, we were the first organization to test it in our programs.

We lead the charge on new approaches to make lifesaving treatment available and accessible to more people. We empower mothers around the world to diagnose malnutrition in their children at a scale never seen before. We train health workers and volunteers to educate and treat malnutrition in hard-to-reach communities, to help make sure no child is left behind.

Photo: Christophe De Silva for Action Against Hunger, Haiti

Together with our partners, we have made immense strides: since 1990, the proportion of malnourished children in the world has been cut in half. But recently, that remarkable progress has stalled. After reaching all-time lows in 2014, hunger is on the rise again.

The roots of hunger and malnutrition are deep and complex: inequality, conflict, poverty, climate change, gender discrimination, weak healthcare systems, and low education rates all contribute to rising hunger around the world. Tackling these systemic issues takes time, commitment, and a sea change in global power dynamics.

In the meantime, every day, children suffering from hunger are left behind. Severe acute malnutrition kills up to two million children under five each year. We know how to treat this deadly illness: we have the science, the tools, the know-how to save the lives of these children – in fact, 90 percent of malnourished children who complete treatment are cured.

Action Against Hunger brought together the global community dedicated to fighting malnutrition – including the United Nations, governments, foundations, and organizations – and we all agreed: even as we work to tackle difficult, long-term underlying causes of hunger, we cannot abandon children already suffering and dying from malnutrition. We committed to an ambitious, but achievable, goal: together, we aim to double the number of children treated every year for acute malnutrition by 2020, from an estimated three million children a year to six million.

A Ground-Breaking New Partnership

One of our major challenges to scaling up treatment is ensuring that enough Plumpy’Nut – the lifesaving ready-to-use therapeutic food used to treat malnutrition – is available and accessible whenever and wherever it is needed.

The journey from the factories where Plumpy’Nut is produced to a malnourished child is long, slow, and complex, and made more complicated when the child lives in a remote area or in an area affected by conflict. Too often, shipments of lifesaving supplies are delayed by bureaucracy and warehouses are left empty, while children and their families wait for weeks for help to arrive.

Action Against Hunger aims to revolutionize this supply chain, so we can get treatment to more children, faster. Today, we are excited to announce a new public-private partnership to improve access to and availability of Plumpy’Nut, starting in Somalia. We have teamed up with our partners, This Bar Saves Lives and the UK Department for International Development, to secure flexible funds and support that will help us treat as many as 250,000 malnourished children over the next three years.

Creating Better Ways to Deal with Hunger

A mother in Kenya, trained by Action Against Hunger, measures her child to determine her nutrition status.

Photo: Lys Arango
for Action Against Hunger,

There is no single action, no one organization, no simple cure-all solution that will ensure that all children suffering from life-threatening malnutrition are successfully treated. Instead, we must work together to tackle multiple challenges simultaneously.

Right now, Action Against Hunger is working with our partners to:

  • Support countries in establishing targets for the number of children treated for life-threatening malnutrition.
  • Mobilize local and national funds and resources to help countries achieve their nutrition targets.
  • Lower the cost of treatment to less than $100 – the current cost is about $150 -- enabling us to do more with existing resources.
  • Develop new delivery mechanisms to make treatment easy to access, closer to communities, and costing less time and resources from parents.
  • Support the first-ever coordinated research agenda exclusively focused on improving treatment for life-threatening malnutrition. Over the last couple years, we have mobilized more than $10 million to support our work with leading scientists and academics from around the world.

We’re fueled by a movement that’s growing each day – the first-ever coordinated, global movement dedicated to achieving our goal of treating more children and helping them get the nutrition they need to survive and thrive. The people needed to make our goal a reality are coming together, inspired and mobilized to act: researchers, manufacturers, donors, governments, advocates, private companies, community health workers, volunteers, mothers, fathers, and more.

This World Food Day, we call on citizens everywhere to join us. Take action – with your skills, your voice, your wallet, your every day choices.

The world needs a better way to deal with hunger. Together, we’re creating it, for everyone, for good.

Action Against Hunger is leading a global movement to end hunger in our lifetimes. It innovates solutions, advocates for change, and reaches 26 million people every year with proven hunger prevention and treatment programs. As a nonprofit that works across 50 countries, its 8,300 dedicated staff members partner with communities to address the root causes of hunger, including climate change, conflict, inequity, and emergencies. It strives to create a world free from hunger, for everyone, for good.