2011 is a time of opportunity to achieve lasting progress against global hunger and malnutrition. For the United States, it is a time of renewing our commitment to this objective and strengthening partnerships with countries that are eager to work together in this common interest.
The dramatic surge in global hunger as a result of a spike in food prices in 2007-2008 galvanized support in both rich and poor countries for raising agricultural investments to the top of their development priorities. It also brought into focus the long-term consequences of hunger, especially for the youngest children.
During the 1,000 days from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday, the consequences of malnutrition are irreversible. Malnutrition and hunger are one and the same in the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Progress toward MDG 1, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, is measured by reductions in the number of underweight children. In 2008, the distinguished medical journal The Lancet attracted international attention with a series of articles on maternal and child malnutrition — in particular finding that a third of all early childhood deaths are the result of malnutrition. Nutrition is important in meeting all of the MDGs.
The United States should take the lead in strengthening international institutions that are complementary to U.S. bilateral assistance in fighting hunger and malnutrition.