Gauging national responses to undernutrition

Save the Children has partnered with World Vision on an exciting new report about undernutrition – the underlying cause of one in three child deaths.

Our Nutrition Barometer looks at the 36 countries with the highest burden of undernutrition and assesses the strength of their political and financial commitments to nutrition.

It also highlights what progress they’ve made to date on reducing undernutrition and improving child survival.

Unexpected results

The Nutrition Barometer contains some surprising findings: in many countries, political commitment to nutrition is a strong indicator of nutrition outcomes, but this is not always the case.

Countries such as Ethiopia have made sound political commitments but are yet to see these translated into better nutrition outcomes.

In contrast, countries like the Philippines are making progress on nutrition despite not articulating public commitments to nutrition.

These mixed findings show that promises alone are insufficient for improving nutrition outcomes.

Commitments and targets are important but won’t have an impact on nutrition outcomes unless they are quickly translated into action in the places where undernutrition is hitting children the hardest.

How to make real change

In order for nutrition outcomes to improve, our Nutrition Barometer report argues that countries must develop and implement strong nutrition plans that are backed up by sufficient resources, strong health workforces and sustained political will.

The report also calls for countries to improve transparency and access to information so that progress on nutrition can be more accurately measured.

As we have seen in countries like Ethiopia, it takes time for commitments to result in improved nutrition outcomes for children and their mothers. That’s why Save the Children, World Vision and our partners will be calling for governments, donors, UN agencies and the private sector to all take action on nutrition now if we are to reach the newly agreed global nutrition targets by 2025.

Opportunites to progress the nutrition agenda

We’re hosting an event at the UN General Assembly this week where we’ll be presenting the findings of the Nutrition Barometer.

We have a great panel of high-level speakers from the global nutrition community – including David Nabarro, UN Special Represenative for Food Security and Nutrition; Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme; and Brendan Rogers, Director General of Irish Aid – who will talk from different perspectives about the actions required to meet the ambitious global nutrition targets set by the World Health Assembly in May.

In particular, we’ll be looking at the opportunities coming up in 2013 to progress the nutrition agenda such as the UK G8 summit and Irish presidency of the EU.

Read the full report and our recommendations to governments and other nutrition actors here.

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