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On World Food Day, WFP says investment in nutrition is key to unlocking a better future

WFP News Release
16, October, 2013

ROME/JUBA – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is marking World Food Day on 16 October by highlighting the power of nutrition to transform individuals, societies and economies, and the need to make it central to all development efforts.

“Undernourished girls and boys face barriers in health, in school performance and later, in the workplace, which limit their human potential and their capacity to contribute to the societies in which they live,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

“Prioritising nutrition today is an investment in our collective global future. The investment must involve food, agriculture, health and education systems,” she said.

Today some 842 million people – more than one in eight people in the world – suffer from chronic hunger. Yet even more – around two billion people – lack the vitamins and minerals needed to live healthy lives.

If the global community invested US$1.2 billion per year for five years in reducing micronutrient deficiencies, the benefits in better health, fewer child deaths and increased future earnings would generate gains worth US$15.3 billion.

“This year in South Sudan , WFP has delivered special food supplements, designed to treat and prevent undernutrition, to almost 400,000 children, pregnant women and nursing mothers,” said WFP South Sudan Country Director Chris Nikoi.

“Our nutrition programmes are designed to combat the risk of illness, or even death, in children, and to ensure that undernourished pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers have sufficient nutrients and calories,” he added.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.” Providing food assistance to 97 million people worldwide, here are some of the ways WFP focuses on nutrition:
• Rapidly increasing the number of children and new mothers who receive new nutritionally enhanced food products.
• Focusing on the crucial 1,000-day window – from the womb to two years of age – when getting sufficient nutrients and calories is crucial for full growth.
• Stepping up assistance through cash and vouchers when food is available in markets, so consumers can buy more fresh and varied local foods.
• Emphasising dietary diversity and fresh foods in its school feeding programmes, by working with local communities and farmers.
• Working with private partners and research institutes to assess the nutritional impact of providing fortified rice in school meals.
• Supporting the creation of a solid evidence base to guide countries in their nutrition policies and strategies, such as the recent Cost of Hunger in Africa survey.

“We know that hunger and malnutrition can have negative long-term economic consequences by reducing the earning potential of individuals. Nutrition programmes that bolster children’s cognitive and physical potential are important in South Sudan at a time when the focus is on nation-building and economic development,” Nikoi said.

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
George Fominyen, WFP/Juba, Mob. +211 922 465 247. Email: george.fominyen@wfp.org