A year and £2.7 billion in pledges on, where are we on tackling malnutrition?

by Rose Caldwell | Concern Worldwide
Monday, 9 June 2014 16:15 GMT

Members of the French non-government organization (NGO) Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) take part in a protest, featuring mock crime scenes, denouncing malnutrition in the world, at the Place Saint Sulpice in Paris October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

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What will happen between now and 2020 to make sure that momentum and pledges are maintained?

We know that malnutrition is the root cause of nearly half of all deaths of children under five each year and we know that there is enough food in the world for everyone. 

That is why, one year ago, non-governmental organisations, foundations and the private sector pledged £2.7 billion to tackle undernutrition amongst the world’s poorest people.  

A year after this landmark event in London, is there still the political will to turn these pledges into reality?

The UK government continues to show leadership on the issue and released an update on their progress that said spending on projects that specifically tackle undernutrition has grown by 58% between 2010 and 2012, and will increase incrementally every year through to 2020.

So what will happen between now and 2020 to make sure that momentum and pledges are maintained?  We should acknowledge the fact that pledges or promises can be broken - especially when governments face pressures from other political agendas.

In 2016, the Government of Brazil will organize a follow up summit that will coincide with their hosting of the Olympics but, as recent coverage of the World Cup shows, the issue of food and sport can be a contentious issue.

That is why it was so reassuring to hear Roberto Jaguaribe, Ambassador of Brazil to the United Kingdom, speak at an event this week and say that they are prepared to take on the leadership role that has so far been played by the UK.

However, leadership from Brazil is not going to be enough. Alongside global leadership we need national governments that committed at the nutrition event last year, as well as those that didn’t but have high levels of undernutrition, to step up and ensure there is enough, or an increased, budget for nutrition.  

National Governments will also need to make sure that any nutrition work actually reaches those that need it the most. This is why Concern Worldwide is looking to work with civil society and other NGO’s to analyze the budget and spending on nutrition across different departments in the countries where we work. We want to see if and how money could be better spent. The aim is that this work will strengthen the capacity of organisations within their own countries so they can hold their own governments to account.

Ultimately we need to see accountability being demanded at the local, national and international level so that the momentum and ambition of Nutrition for Growth, to save the lives of 1.7 million children, is realised.