Invest in nutrition – WFP
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says investment in nutrition is key to unlocking a better future.
The WFP in marking world food day on October 16 is 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.
Statement issued by the WFP in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday 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.”
It said if the global community invested $1.2 billion per year for five years on reducing micronutrient deficiencies, the benefits in better health, fewer child deaths and increased future earnings would generate gains worth $15.3 billion.
“Here in Ghana, WFP works with the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to provide nutritious food to 140,000 pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children, who are at risk of malnutrition in the most deprived parts of the country” said WFP Ghana Country Director, Pippa Bradford.
“Such programmes help to improve children’s mental and physical growth and ultimately have a huge impact on their ability to grow properly, learn and rise out of poverty.”
The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.”
It said providing food assistance to 97 million people worldwide, some of the ways WFP focuses on nutrition such as rapidly increasing the number of children and new mothers who receive new nutritionally enhanced food products and focusing on the crucial 1,000 day window – from the womb to two years of age – where getting sufficient nutrients and calories is crucial for full growth.
Others are stepping up assistance through cash and vouchers when food is available in markets, so consumers can buy more fresh and varied local foods and emphasising dietary diversity and fresh foods in its school feeding programmes, by working with local communities and farmers.
The rest are working with private partners and research institutes to assess the nutritional impact of providing fortified rice in school meals and 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 study, led by the African Union
“Ghana is one of the African countries where the Cost of Hunger study is being undertaken,” Ms. Bradford said. “The findings will provide evidence of how much money the country loses every year because of malnutrition and consequently, help us improve strategies to reap the benefits of a well-nourished population.”