Improving and saving lives through nutrition
One out of three children who die before reaching their fifth birthday, die because they don't have enough nutritious food and essential minerals, such as Vitamin A and zinc, to be able to fight off disease. Millions more are permanently mentally and physically disabled. Pregnant women who suffer from under-nutrition have a higher risk of complications and death, as do their babies.
Research has proven that children who receive adequate nutrition, particularly during their mother's pregnancy and until they are 2 years old - known as 'the 1000 days window of opportunity' - are less likely to die or be harmed by diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia, measles and HIV. They are also more likely to stay in school, contribute to their family and reach their full potential.
As part of the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 , experts around the world agreed that investing in getting nutrients to the world's undernourished will result in tremendous benefits. They also estimated that, on average, the development returns from investing in nutrition were $30 for every $1 invested. Through global nutrition investments, children will live longer, healthier lives and contribute to the development of their countries.
Canada's leadership on nutrition
Canada, through CIDA, has brought international attention to the issue of under-nutrition, and supports critical nutrition programs that reduce child mortality.
Making nutritious, good-quality food more available and accessible is a priority of CIDA's Food Security Strategy. Improving women and children's nutrition is also a key priority in Canada's Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, launched in 2010, which aims to save the lives of women and children in developing countries.
Canadian nutrition investments reduce global poverty, lessen the burden of disease and mortality related to under-nutrition and, at the same time, maximize resources effectively and produce meaningful, sustainable results.
- is a founding partner of the Micronutrient Initiative, and
- the largest donor to vitamin A programs worldwide since 1998, significantly contributing to the reduction in child deaths
- a lead donor to the global effort to iodize table salt to help prevent iodine deficiency, the leading cause of preventable mental impairment.
- supports UNICEF and Helen Keller International in delivering essential health and nutrition services which are saving the lives of children under five years of age in Africa, through Child Health Days.
- plays an active role in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement launched in 2010. SUN brings together governments, the United Nations, private sector, civil society organizations and development partners to fight under-nutrition. SUN calls for increased investments in nutrition and integrating nutrition efforts into health, agriculture and education initiatives.
- was invited by the United Nations Secretary-General to sit on the SUN Lead Group alongside 26 global leaders championing nutrition. Canada's Minister for International Cooperation, Julian Fantino, will co-host, with UNICEF's Executive Director, Anthony Lake, a SUN high-level event at the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2012. At this event, the UN Secretary General will bring together those involved in the SUN movement to discuss progress, commitments and opportunities to fight under-nutrition.
- is a long-term supporter of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and HarvestPlus and their efforts to biofortify food—breeding higher amounts of critical micronutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin A into staple food crops such as wheat, rice and cassava.
- is a long-term partner of both the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and works with these two organizations to improve nutrition and increase food security in developing countries around the world.
- is the lead donor to REACH, a partnership between UNICEF, WFP, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization designed to support developing country governments in building national capacity to scale-up nutrition programs and integrate nutrition with other development efforts.
- is leading work with other donors to track donor spending on nutrition to ensure greater accountability.
- is working with national governments and other donors to improve coordination, alignment and harmonization of efforts to scale up nutrition. CIDA plays an active role in SUN policy development in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali and Mozambique.
CIDA's nutrition priorities and investments
As a strong supporter of the SUN movement, CIDA has three nutrition priorities:
- Preventing and treating under-nutrition
CIDA supports countries in promoting good nutrition practices, such as breastfeeding, and in distributing essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, zinc, iron and folic acid. Examples of CIDA support include:
- Integrating nutrition into other development efforts
CIDA includes nutrition in agricultural, school feeding and health programs. CIDA supports crop diversification, to ensure that more than one type of crop is being grown, and biofortification, to improve the vitamin and mineral content of food. Examples of CIDA support include:
Helping countries prepare sound national plans and programs to improve nutrition
CIDA supports government departments in developing countries and with donors, civil society organizations and other key partners. Examples of CIDA support include:
Recent achievements in combatting malnutrition
Canada's efforts, through CIDA, are helping to reduce poverty, disease and death:
- In 2011, with support from CIDA and other donors, the World Food Programme reached 99.1 million people in 75 countries with 3.6 million metric tonnes of food and nutritionally improved products.
- As a major supporter of WFP's school feeding programs, Canada helped feed approximately 23 million children in 2011, nearly half of whom are girls.
- In 2011 alone, CIDA's support helped the Micronutrient Initiative provide more than 200 million children with vitamin A supplements, ensured that 280 million people had iodized salt, reached 260,000 children with zinc treatments for diarrheal disease, and fortified food with key vitamins and minerals for 1.75 million people.
- Canada's support has helped ensure that the number of children receiving two doses of vitamin A supplements annually has more than tripled, from 16 percent in 1999 to 86 percent in 2010, significantly contributing to a global reduction in child deaths, which are now down to 7.6 million annually from 12.4 million in 1990.
- Canada's support for salt iodization—critical for child development—has helped bring the number of people who have access to iodized salt from below 20 percent in 1990 to more than 70 percent today.
- In Ethiopia, Community Health Days, organized with CIDA's support in 100 districts, provided 1.5 million children under five with vitamin A supplements and dewormed 1 million children between the ages of two to six.
- In Ghana, CIDA's support to WFP has reached nearly 328,000 malnourished people, and provided supplementary feeding to 67,000 children, and 101,500 pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- In Malawi, CIDA's support has led to an increase in community therapeutic care coverage from 42 percent to 84 percent and helped purchase 184 metric tonnes of ready-to-use therapeutic food such as peanut-based spreads to treat acute malnutrition in children, representing 33 percent of the national requirement.
- With support from Canada, HarvestPlus released three cassava varieties (a root vegetable) enriched with vitamin A in cooperation with Nigerian authorities and began to deliver seeds and stalks of biofortified crops in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zambia.
- With support from Canada, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank provided food aid, nutrition programs and agricultural assistance to 2.2 million people in 36 countries in 2011-12.
Ending under-nutrition is a long-term effort and critical to achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015: to eradicate hunger (MDG 1), to reduce child mortality (MDG 4), to improve maternal health (MDG 5) and to help combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and, other deadly diseases (MDG 6).