WFP, UNICEF WHO And FAO Hail REACH Initiative On Child Undernutrition As Foundation For Sustainable Development Goals

Published on 20 June 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio + 20 presents an opportunity for agreement on the future we want.  It is a future that will be determined by global commitment towards sustainable development goals in the years ahead, and this can be achieved through support for initiatives that provide a strong foundation for reaching these goals.

One of these is the REACH initiative, under which the UN agencies WFP, UNICEF, FAO and WHO have committed to a renewed effort against child hunger and undernutrition.  REACH offers practical and effective approaches to reducing undernutrition in the most heavily burdened countries, and it has been gaining momentum at a time when a new global consensus is emerging of what truly needs to be scaled-up to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society. 

The main causes of child undernutrition - food insecurity, poor health and inappropriate care – are all known and preventable.  Governments and stakeholders know why nutrition interventions are necessary and there is evidence for what works, when and where.  The greatest challenge, however, is how to scale up programmes so that they can have a real impact, and this is where the REACH approach can provide direction.

REACH facilitates the complex process of coordinating different agencies, and government departments as they strengthen capacity and turn national policies on child undernutrition into action plans.  By engaging different sectors of government including ministries of health, agriculture, education, and finance, REACH helps to build national programmes to prevent some of the outcomes of child undernutrition such as stunting.

REACH typically engages in a country for three years and provides guidance on the prioritization of policies for implementation and effective choices for the allocation of scarce resources.  REACH deploys a team of international and national facilitators who are trained to support government counterparts. Decisions are made at the country level so the REACH approach is tailored to meet local needs and builds upon existing initiatives and experiences in each country.

REACH is currently operational in 13 countries:  Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sahel Region, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.  Major donors include:  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CIDA, EU, and USAID in addition to the resources each UN agency invests in this effort.

The annual operating budget is $8.83 million, including country operations, 20 field staff and 8 staff/consultants in the Secretariat.  WFP is the host agency of REACH through 2014.

For more information please contact:

Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
Peter Smerdon, UNICEF/New York, Tel. +1 212 303 7984, Mob. +1 917 213 5188
Erwin Northoff, FAO/Rome, Tel. +39 06 5705 3105, Mob. +39 348 252 3616
Tarik Jasarevic, WHO/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 791 5099, Mob. +41 79 367 6214