Briefing Paper: Accelerated Nutrition Progress in Kenya

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Photo: Todd Post / Bread for the World

Exciting progress has been made against global malnutrition. In just five years, Kenya reduced its child wasting rate by 39 percent. But obstacles remain.

By Jordan Teague, senior international policy advisor

In just five years, Kenya reduced its child wasting rate by 39 percent. It also made progress on child stunting, with a 35 percent decrease over nine years.

This rapid progress against malnutrition was made possible by improvements in many areas: delivering nutrition services, enacting nutrition governance legislation, strengthening supportive economic policies, developing a healthier food system, and building community resilience. Effective advocacy for nutrition and external support to the Kenyan government were also key ingredients in success. But Kenya faces difficulties in its efforts to further reduce malnutrition.

Two areas of difficulty are wide disparities among the country’s regions, and shortfalls in funding. Kenyans themselves must take the lead in overcoming these obstacles, but the U.S. government can support Kenya, along with other countries working to reduce malnutrition, in three main ways:

  • Increase nutrition funding to help fill the funding gap.
  • Invest nutrition resources for greater impact by increasing the share of nutrition funding in programs and making nutrition a key objective of agriculture and health programs.
  • Target nutrition resources to the communities with the highest burden of malnutrition.

Kenya, with the support of many internal and external stakeholders invested in its success, has taken commendable steps to accelerate its progress on nutrition. These steps include prioritizing governance, increasing human resources capacity in nutrition within the health system, diversifying agriculture and people’s diets, investing in resilience, creating space for advocacy, and leading coordination efforts among all stakeholders.

While there has been progress on reducing stunting and wasting, Kenya still faces difficulties such as funding shortfalls and uneven progress that risks exacerbating nutrition disparities.View full report.

Recognizing that children are the greatest asset of our nation, my government is committed to ending child undernutrition.

— The Honorable Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya

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