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Washington, D.C. – Today at the Chicago Council Global Food Security 2014 event in Washington, D.C., Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), made good on his promise to launch the agency’s first-ever global nutrition strategy. The release of this strategy comes just one year after being announced at an event cohosted by Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide.
“The fact that USAID has developed an agency-wide nutrition strategy is another sign of U.S. leadership in efforts to scale up maternal and child nutrition globally,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “It reflects a strong commitment to augment the effectiveness of its programs, especially those in the Feed the Future Initiative, and to hold itself accountable to improving nutrition, particularly in the critical 1,000-day window of opportunity between pregnancy and age 2.”
According to the strategy, undernutrition contributed to 3.1 million (45 percent of all) preventable child deaths in 2011. That same year, stunting impacted more than 165 million people worldwide—including 52 million children under five. The USAID nutrition strategy recognizes the essential role that nutrition plays in human development and the devastating personal, social, and economic impacts of chronic malnutrition on an individual, a community, and a country.
The strategy will support commitments the United States made as part of the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact agreed at last year’s Nutrition for Growth Summit, including reaching 500 million pregnant women and children under two by 2020; averting 20 million additional cases of stunting by 2020 (a World Health Assembly milestone); and preventing 1.7 million deaths by 2020 through efforts to reduce stunting, increase breastfeeding, improve zinc supplementation, and boost coverage of treatment of severe acute malnutrition.
“In the year since announcing the strategy, USAID has engaged a broad set of stakeholders, resulting in a stronger finished product and more effective, efficient implementation,” added Lateef. “This has also laid the groundwork for the forthcoming ‘whole-of-government’ plan from the Obama administration. We look forward to continued cross-agency coordination to help improve nutritional outcomes for women and children around the world.”
Save the Children’s president and CEO, Carolyn Miles, Bread for the World’s president, Rev. David Beckmann, and 1,000 Days’ Executive Director, Lucy Sullivan, said in a statement today, “The USAID Global Nutrition Strategy is an important step in the right direction, and we look forward to continuing to work with the administration as it develops a whole-of-government plan to coordinate efforts across all agencies and programs that contribute toward improved nutritional outcomes for women and children.”
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