TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 20, 2012) - Save the Children and World Vision are calling for political promises to be urgently translated into actions to avert the deaths of millions of undernourished children, 2.3 million of whom died in 2011 alone.
The two organizations have launched a Nutrition Barometer which assesses governments' political, legal and financial commitments to tackling malnutrition in the 36 countries where 90 per cent of the world's undernourished children live. Almost a quarter of these countries have shown little progress in tackling this silent crisis.
"The Nutrition Barometer released today is a way to assess and hold governments accountable in terms of their political and financial commitment to end child malnutrition," said Save the Children CEO Patricia Erb. "I will be in Bangladesh visiting our nutrition and health programming next week. Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries, has shown significant improvements in child mortality, health and nutrition. Through political will they have demonstrated that by investing in health, by targeting the poorest and by working closely with grassroots organizations, they are on the road to ending preventable child deaths in a generation."
Strikingly, India appears at the bottom of the list despite experiencing strong economic growth in the past few years. At the other end of the spectrum lies Peru which have shown strong political resolve and committed growing resources to fight child undernutrition, achieving results.
World Vision and Save the Children are calling on world leaders gathering in New York for the UN General Assembly summit to take urgent measures to tackle child undernutrition. They warn that unless promises are translated into swift action, the ambitious commitment made at the World Health Assembly earlier this year to reduce the number of stunted children by 40 per cent, by 2025, will not be met.
World Vision Canada's Elly Vandenberg said: "Every child deserves the best start in life. Combatting child malnutrition demands good governance and multi-sectoral strategies backed by long-term investments. As Minister Fantino heads to his first UNGA, we are counting on Canada to keep pushing other countries for accountability on this issue. Hungry children need concrete commitments delivered, not empty promises."
Crucially, the accountability report identifies opportunities for governments to fulfil their promises. Specifically, the new barometer suggests that good governance can play a key role to achieve success in fighting child undernutrition, as reflected in 13 countries representing over a third of the sample.
The report reveals Peru has demonstrated excellent legal and political commitments matched by strong financial investment. As a result, the proportion of children suffering from chronic undernutrition in 2011 has fallen to 19.5 per cent from 23.8 per cent two years earlier, even though in some regions over half of children still suffer undernutrition.
In India, on the other hand, child undernutrition levels remain persistently high - around 42 per cent according to the last official survey in 2005/6 - due to issues including inadequate spending on health and nutrition, wide economic and social inequality and weak political commitment, though the authorities' commitment to tackle child undernutrition is now strengthening.
The barometer warns that it takes time to translate political and economic commitments into results, which explains why actions to tackle the child undernutrition crisis need to be adopted urgently.
2012 has been a critical year for action on nutrition with global leaders reaffirming their commitment to tackling malnutrition at the G8 and the London Hunger Summit. The 36 countries in this report are capable of saving millions of lives and preventing the number of stunted children by some 64 million by 2025. But this requires political will and commitments, followed by decisive action.
Link to report: http://www.savethechildren.ca/document.doc?id=230
Notes to editors:
The Nutrition Barometer will be launched at the UNGA in New York on Wednesday, 26 September, at 8am at Sentry Centers (730 3rd Ave). This event will be co-hosted by Save the Children CEO Jasmine Whitbread and World Vision CEO Kevin Jenkins.
The Nutrition Barometer aims to provide a snapshot of national governments' commitments and progress in addressing children's nutrition. It builds on existing indices such as the Global Hunger Index (GHI) produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Hunger Reduction Commitment Index (HRCI) released by the Institute of Development Studies. It analyzes commitments made by each country's government to fight undernutrition and attempts to understand how these commitments move with children's nutrition status.
The figure of 36 countries accounting for 90 per cent of the world's malnourished children being able to reduce the number of stunted children by some 64 million by 2025 comes from research carried out by Save the Children.
To view the figure associated with this release, please visit the following link: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/STCCWVFigure1920.pdf