A score of CEOs, UN officials and heads of charitable foundations met at 7 am in WFP’s tent at Davos this morning and rolled up their sleeves to review a programme born two years ago in this very tent: Project Laser Beam (PLB) .
PLB is building real solutions to malnutrition among children under two. It is an example of how private-public partnerships can work to make sustainable improvements in peoples’ lives. It brings the expertise of private sector companies such as Unilever, Kraft and DSM together with the World Food Programme and other partners to focus on eliminating the underlying causes of malnutrition among young children, initially in Bangladesh and Indonesia.
Partners are working together to: 1) fortify food with micronutrients to increase children’s dietary intake; 2) improve household food security by increasing cultivation and access to nutritious food; and 3) increase hygiene and parasite control in communities which have, to date, had little outside assistance.
This year, the group discussed what will be needed to maintain progress over the five-year programme, and to make it transferable – ‘plug and play’ – to other countries. The ultimate goal is to get to a place where WFP's work is unnecessary, because communities will be able to sustainably feed themselves.
But the challenges are big and it takes time to show long term results. “To measurably reduce stunting, for example, can take 15 years. … Nutrition is not like a vaccine. There are many different things that go into good nutrition – the right kinds of food, clean water, sanitation, agricultural development,” said Marc Van Ameringen, Chief Executive Officer of GAIN, the Global Alliance for improved Nutrition. Project Laser Beam is aiming to deliver all of these.