DFIDs leadership on tackling undernutrition was instrumental in bringing world leaders together for the Nutrition for Growth summit last year. Last month our grassroots volunteers encouraged DFID to honour their £655 million commitment at Nutrition for Growth and called on them to announce how they had spent their money committed at the Nutrition for Growth event last year. Many of our grassroots volunteers placed media all over the UK, in a variety of news outlets, from the Catholic Herald to the Eastern Daily Press in Norfolk.

In their letter to the editor the editor the Reading RESULTS Group said, “We want to ensure that the great commitments of the Department for International Development and Justine Greening MP are honoured. We are asking that by June 8ths 2014, the UK makes an announcement of how a significant portion of funds will be spent.”


Thanks to the continued pressure by UK civil society, the public and passionate campaigners like our RESULTS grassroots volunteers, DFID announced that they have launched nine new nutrition programmes. This blog analyses DFID’s progress one year on.

Recap on Nutrition for Growth

As was showcased a year ago, undernutrition has been neglected for far too long. Undernutrition in developing countries has hindered progress on other development goals, from health to economic growth. Children missing out on enough of the right nutrients are less likely to succeed at school and be able to secure a livelihood as an adult. They are much more vulnerable to infectious diseases, and less likely to survive illness. Undernutrition underlies almost half (45%) of all under-five deaths, totalling 3.1 million young lives lost every year.

Recognising the importance of addressing undernutrition, leaders from all over the world came together to pledge to work together to improve nutrition for millions of women and children around the world. The event raised a total of $4.1 (£2.7) billion in commitments, to be delivered over seven years – a good start towards finding the estimated $9.6 (£5.7) billion a year needed to tackle undernutrition.

One year on, the cameras have gone and the celebrities had left Hyde Park, things have gone a little quiet. It’s vital that we maintain momentum and hold governments, donors and even civil society to account for their commitments, or we are at risk of falling short on promise, which could mean millions of children being robbed of the opportunity to live healthy lives and reach their full potential.

DFIDs progress one year on

DFIDs latest report – ‘Nutrition for growth: One Year On’ – recaps the progress they have made one year on from the historic event. Many may remember that DFID pledged to provide an additional £375 million for nutrition-specific programmes between 2013 and 2020. It also pledged to provide match funding of up to £280 million, to leverage additional commitments and bolster nutrition efforts. Their commitment includes an additional £604 million was for nutrition-sensitive programming across other sectors including social protection, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Since 2013 DFID’s has launched nine new nutrition-specific programmes. However, only four of the nine were launched since June 8th 2013, as the other five had started earlier in the year. The report provides details of three of the four programmes set up since Nutrition for Growth:

  • A £4.8 million programme in Mozambique that aims to reach 600,000 women and children with improved nutrition interventions over 3 years
  • A £4.8 million programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo that aims to reach 1.6 million children and treat 63,000 suffering from acute malnourishment over 2 years
  •  £14 million to enable the provision of technical assistance in India

In addition to these programmes, DFID is due to launch a new programme in Tanzania, which aims to reduce the number of stunted children by 10% (80,000 under 5’s), within a five-year period (2014 – 2018) by focussing on behaviour change and access to nutritious foods as well as an enabling environment. RESULTS UK is pleased to hear about this new programme, especially following our parliamentary delegation to Tanzania last year.

These three programmes, specified in the report, make up a total of £23.6 million of the £375 million commitment. The £23.6 million spent so far is an important step, and is underwritten by a promise to hit their target through annual increases in nutrition spending – from the 2010 baseline of £25 million a year to £100 million a year by 2020. But DFID still has a long way to go to fulfil their commitment.


What’s more, DFID’s projections – specified in Figure 1 – are contingent on mobilising new commitments by other actors. £280 million of DFIDs £655 million commitment is contingent on being matched by others. This has the potential to leverage new commitments and bolster efforts for nutrition – if matched by other. However, if DFID is unable to mobilise new commitments, the £280 million may never leave the UK, and would almost half DFIDs financial commitment. This could have serious implications for reaching the millions of women and children with life-saving nutrition interventions, especially as DFIDs commitment makes up almost a quarter of the total commitment for direct nutrition interventions.

DFIDs projections for how it plans to disburse its finances sees the largest disbursals being made in 2019 and 2020. This is a little concerning, as we only have till 2020 to reach 500 million pregnant women and children with nutrition interventions and prevent 20 million children from becoming permanently stunted. Seeing reductions in stunting can take a number of years, as stunting is often generational and needs to be address within the key first 1000 days of life. For these reasons it is unlikely that we will be able to fully measure the nutritional impacts of the finances disbursed in 2019 and 2020. In order to see they greatest impact made by 2020 DFID, and others, should make strategic steps to disburse their commitments sooner rather than later. Or we may find ourselves falling short of the targets we have set ourselves, leaving millions of children without access to life-saving nutrition interventions.