UNICEF and the European Union take action to tackle undernutrition in Asia and Africa
By Marie-France Bourgeois
BRUSSELS, Belgium, 6 December 2012 – The European Union (EU) and UNICEF have joined forces to protect more than 30 million children’s lives by improving nutrition security in five Asian and four African countries.
The EU is providing €41 million over four years to fund programmes in Bangladesh, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Philippines, as well as Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali and Uganda. The aim is to improve nutrition security for children during the first 1,000 days of life, including pregnancy.
Focus on both interventions and policy
Nutrition security is not just about having enough food – it’s the outcome of good health, a healthy environment and good care. That’s why the EU-funded programme will focus on high-level policy engagement, as well as making sure that nutrition goals are incorporated into health, development and agricultural sectors.
It will also feature low-cost, high-impact interventions, including promoting the use of available foods and resources, breastfeeding, distribution of vitamin and mineral supplements, appropriate complementary foods, fortification of staple foods and integrated management of acute malnutrition.
UNICEF is working with governments and partners to target 30 million children and five million pregnant and lactating women in the five Asian countries, along with one million children and 600,000 pregnant and lactating women in the four African nations. UNICEF and the EU are hoping that other nations can learn from these countries’ experiences.
Fighting a hidden crisis
The hidden crisis of chronic malnutrition is robbing millions of children of their full potential and hampering the social and economic progress of their nations.
In both Asia and Africa, the EU’s contribution is vital to a wider multi-donor initiative. The EU is playing a strong role in bringing together and leveraging the work of governments, NGOs and international organizations in the fight against undernutrition – a sound investment that will ensure children can grow, learn and earn, reach their full potential and contribute to resilience and sustainable development.