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

Published on 17 October 2013

ROME / VIENTIANE –The UN World Food Programme (WFP) marked 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 Lao PDR, WFP is engaged in supporting the Government to free the country from undernutrition and its debilitating impacts on human potential and national development.

“To maximize the impact of our assistance on food security and nutrition, WFP’s approach is multisectoral, working the health sector (mother and child health & nutrition), the education sector (school meals) and the agriculture sector (rural livelihood development),” said WFP Lao PDR Representative, Bradley Guerrant. “So far in 2013, WFP has provided assistance to over 199,000 people in the most vulnerable districts, reaching children, women and men in the most remote mountainous area of the country.” 

WFP also works with Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to further consolidate its capacities for disaster risk management and response, hence ensuring people’s food and nutrition security in times of emergency.

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 meals
  • 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 survey (http://www.wfp.org/content/cost-hunger-africa)

To know more about WFP’s nutrition work in Lao PDR, visit our dedicated country page:

http://www.wfp.org/countries/lao-pdr

“WFP is committed to working with the government, donors and partners to assist the country to reduce undernutrition in Lao PDR” said Guerrant. 

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).  

#                              #                                 #

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.

In 2012, WFP Lao PDR provided over 3,200 metric tons of food to more than 225,000 people throughout the country. To learn more about WFP operations in Lao PDR, visit our website: http://www.wfp.org/countries/laos

Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wfplaos

For more information please contact:
Mingngakham Pangnasak
Public Information Officer, WFP Lao PDR
Tel: (856-21) 330 300 ext. 2225
Mob: (856-20) 55528637
Email: mingngakham.pangnasak@wfp.org