Anushree Shiroor, Policy Advocacy Officer (Nutrition),  blogs on the second anniversary of Nutrition for Growth. It is June 8th, two years since the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) summit in London where governments, development organisations and businesses came together to tackle the lifelong scourge of malnutrition. Co-hosted by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and the Government of Brazil, a total of £2.7 billion were committed for nutrition for 2013-2020, of which £1.9 billion was in the form of core funding and the remaining £1.8 was in the form of matched funding. The UK was amongst the leaders in this fight against malnutrition, committing to triple its investments in nutrition between 2013 and 2015, and committing nearly £ 1 billion additional to its 2010 spending levels, for nutrition. The below chart shows all the UK’s commitments. N4G UK CommitmentsThe N4G compact aims to prevent at least 20 million children from being stunted and saving at least 1.7 million lives by 2020. In 2013 itself, 161 million children were stunted (to be put simply, too short and under-developed), 51 million wasted (thin and emaciated to an extent that threatens their survival), and more than 2 million suffering from micronutrient deficiencies. Further, nearly 2 billion suffer from overweight, or obesity which puts them at risk for other non-communicable diseases. Poor nutrition thus affects individuals’ health and functioning, and in the long run hinders their economic potential. Undernutrition InfographicClearly, the resources raised at N4G were just a drop in the ocean of resources required to help the >200 million children who do not reach their true potential. Nonetheless, it was an important and exciting step forward to attract much needed finance and attention for nutrition. Here is what has happened since June 8th, 2013:

  • Absolute hunger is reducing. Latest estimates show that 795 million people are undernourished, from 842 million in 2012. We still have a long way to go, but this is still a success!
  • From £64 million in 2012, the UK increased nutrition specific spending to 107 million in 2013, while increasing DfID’s nutrition-sensitive spending from £ 418 million to £735 million.
  • The first ever Global Nutrition Report was launched in 2014, to show us the progress being made in tackling malnutrition, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead;
  • The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition was set up to provide policy and research guidance on nutrition-sensitive agriculture;
  • In 2015, the UK, CIFF and UBS Optimus foundation co-launched the ‘Power of Nutrition’, a catalytic fund that seeks to unlock up to $ 1 billion to further scale up nutrition investments, with implementing partners such as the World Bank and UNICEF.
  • Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced to double its investments in nutrition to $ 776 million over the next six years.
  • The UK government also announced partnerships with the Gates foundation and the Canadian government, to unlock from its N4G matched fund, £ 115 million ($ 180 million) and £ 41.5 million ($61.6 million) respectively.

The UK has been continuing its leadership role in disbursing its commitments made at N4G and has been appreciated for its performance and transparency. There is however, one thing that we mustn’t forget – one of the key commitments made two year back was that the co-hosts would come together during the 2016 Rio Olympics, and hold another High-Level Nutrition Event under the leadership of the Government of Brazil. With just one year to go, we need more donors to come forward and commit greater investments for nutrition at Rio. We want to see the UK government as a leader in encouraging these donors and ensuring ambitious pledges are made at Rio, and as we’ve said before, N4G 2013 was just the start, not the end of efforts to scale up nutrition!