On World Food Day, WFP Says Investment In Nutrition Is Key To Unlocking A Better Future

Published on 21 October 2013

Rome - Kabul - The World Food Programme (WFP) is marking World Food Day on 16 October by highlighting the power of  nutrition to transform individuals, societies and economies, and the need to make it central to all development efforts.

“Undernourished girls and boys face barriers in health, in school performance and later, in the workplace, which limit their human potential and their capacity to contribute to the societies in which they live,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

“Prioritising nutrition today is an investment in our collective global future.  The investment must involve food, agriculture, health and education systems,” she said.

Today some 842 million people - more than one in eight people in the world – suffer from chronic hunger. Yet even more – around two billion people - lack the vitamins and minerals needed to live healthy lives.

If the global community invested US$1.2 billion per year for five years on reducing micronutrient deficiencies, the benefits in better health, fewer child deaths and increased future earnings would generate gains worth US$15.3 billion.

In Afghanistan, chronic malnutrition (stunting) rates in children under-five year of age are 60.5 percent, 8.7 percent of the children are acute malnourished and 37.7 percent are underweight.  

“WFP works with the Ministry of Public Health and other partners to treat moderate acute malnutrition and prevent severe acute malnutrition in young children. We also provide specialised nutritious food to malnourished mothers and pregnant women,” said WFP Afghanistan Country Director, Claude Jibidar.
“It is particulary important to address undernutrition in these vulnerable groups. Malnutrition during pregnancy and in the first two years of life results in permanent detrimental effects on children’s growth and development,” Mr. Jibidar added.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.”  Providing food assistance to 97 million people worldwide, here are some of the ways WFP focuses on nutrition:

•    Rapidly increasing the number of children and new mothers who receive new nutritionally enhanced food products.
•    Focusing on the crucial 1,000 day window - from the womb to two years of age – where getting sufficient nutrients and calories is crucial for full growth.
•    Stepping up assistance through cash and vouchers when food is available in markets, so consumers can buy more fresh and varied local foods.
•    Emphasising dietary diversity and fresh foods in its school feeding programmes, by working with local communities and farmers.
•    Working with private partners and research institutes to assess the nutritional impact of providing fortified rice in school meal
•    Supporting the creation of a solid evidence base to guide countries in their nutrition policies and strategies, such as the recent Cost of Hunger in Africa study, led by the African Union  

To know more about WFP’s nutrition work in Afghanistan, visit our dedicated country page:  http://www.wfp.org/afghanistan

WFP celebrates World Food Day with its sister UN food agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).  
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.  Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.

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For more information please contact
Keiko Izushi, WFP/Kabul, +93(0)706-004-885, keiko.izushi@wfp.org
Wahidullah Amani, WFP/Kabul, +93(0)706-004-884, wahidullah.amani@wfp.org
Fezeh Hosseini< WFP/Kabul, +93(0)706004847, Fezeh.hosseini@wfp.org