On World Food Day, WFP Says Investment in Nutrition is Key to Unlocking a Better Future

Published on 17 October 2013

The UN World Food Programme 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.

“Here in Tanzania, addressing undernutrition is a key element in both our programme activities and our policy work,” said WFP Tanzania Country Director, Richard Ragan. “We reach some 1.2 million of the country’s most vulnerable people every year, and through our nutrition programmes we focus on ensuring mothers, pregnant women, and young children receive healthy, nutritious foods.”

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.

“In Tanzania, WFP works closely with the Government to advance the nutrition agenda. In May of this year, the Government of Tanzania launched a national food fortification programme which will see staple items such as wheat flour, oil and maize flour fortified with vitamins and minerals,” said Richard Ragan. “Given that these foods will reach households all over the country, WFP is providing technical assistance to ensure millers are ready to begin the fortification process next year.”

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).

For more information, please contact fizza.moloo@wfp.org.