Undernutrition is a cruel social injustice
World Food Day The nutrition a child receives in their first 1,000 days can change the course of their entire life.
“Nutrition is the biggest missed opportunity in global health.”
– Bill Gates, Gates Foundation
“Stunting is a cruel social injustice that hides in plain sight.”
– Martin Short, CEO, The Power of Nutrition
It is a simple but devastating fact that the nutrition a child receives in their first 1,000 days can change the course of their entire life. This is a cruel social injustice that hides in plain sight. It may seem obvious that babies and young children need the right nutrients to grow. But the long-term effects are much more significant, and longer-lasting, than the underdevelopment of a child’s body.
Undernutrition leads to slower physical and mental growth of the body and brain, causing long-term damage to a child’s health, and the opportunities they may have throughout their life. Undernutrition is one of the biggest killers of children in the world today – leading to nearly half of childhood deaths. Even those who survive are destined for a life deprived of opportunity. The Power of Nutrition is using the power of financial leverage to address this injustice.
The Power of Nutrition is investing in communities in Africa and Asia to fight undernutrition
The effect of stunting
Nearly one in four children under the age of five is stunted, with diminished physical and mental capacities. As a result, tens of millions of children living today across Africa and Asia face the prospect of diminished, stunted futures. This is a vicious cycle that holds back generation after generation.
"Globally, nearly 1/4 of children under five are stunted."
Such a vicious cycle cannot be broken by governments, philanthropists and civil society alone or by a global community that works in silos. It requires everyone working in concert towards systemic and sustainable solutions. It requires enlightened governments, private sector capital working in harmony with development funds, innovative thinking and a new kind of mindset.
Collaborating for change
The Power of Nutrition was created in 2015 to help fill this need by turning towards the private sector as a source of funding for nutrition. With support from our founders (the UK Government’s Department for International Development, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, UNICEF and the World Bank), we leverage every dollar we raise four times (4x) to invest in programmes in some of the countries where the need is greatest.
"Such a vicious cycle cannot be broken by governments, philanthropists and civil society alone or by a global community that works in silos."
Collaboration and partnership are key to the success of this model. In two years, with partners in government and the private sector, The Power of Nutrition has already invested almost $190 million in the futures of children in Ethiopia, Liberia, Tanzania and Madagascar. Each programme is based on collaboration between a specific combination of private sector funders (including corporates, philanthropies and high-net-worth individuals), bilateral and multilateral donors, and importantly national governments.
This unique and highly targeted approach to bringing together private and public sector funders is the reason why The Power of Nutrition was recently named as an “accelerator” of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Gates Foundation selected as accelerators a group of “high-level partnerships [that] catalyze substantial progress … through a combination of investment, expertise, and innovation,” towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also known as the Global Goals). This dynamic combination of partnership, expertise and innovation exactly defines The Power of Nutrition.
Investing in nutrition builds healthy bodies and brains so that children can fulfil their potential
A knock-on effect
By missing out on the vital nutrients they need in their first 1,000 days of life, undernourished children live with the effects for the rest of their lives. As do their families, their communities and the countries where they live. Stunted children (with underdeveloped bodies for their age) have stunted brains that limit everything they do. As these children grow up, a stunted workforce creates a stunted economy, cutting GDP by as much as 11%.
"Investing in nutrition is one of the best ways to ensure communities grow and develop."
Investing in nutrition is one of the best ways of ensuring that children and their communities will grow and develop. Studies have shown a return of as much a $16 for every $1 spent on nutrition. As Bill Gates has said, this is one of the most cost-effective interventions in development today. But very little money is invested in this critical area; only around 1% of all global aid is spent on nutrition, making it one of the most poorly funded areas in development.
For the future
The Power of Nutrition currently has a pipeline of investments worth as much as $250 million in life-changing investments to build a better future for children in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, India and Rwanda. This will move us towards our target of $1 billion in new investments for nutrition.
As one of the fastest-growing foundations in Europe, The Power of Nutrition offers great opportunities for new investments in nutrition. Thinking and acting like an investment firm, we combine rigour and an innovative financing mechanism to deliver supercharged funding for an underfunded sector and systemic change where and when it is needed.
The Power of Nutrition is a UK-based foundation set up to tackle the burning social injustice of undernutrition by investing in programmes that deliver sustainable impact at scale. With support from our founders (UK Aid, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the UBS Optimus Foundation, UNICEF and the World Bank), we leverage each dollar raised by at least 4x to help protect children from the long-term impact of undernutrition.
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