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Nutrition ProjectsThe World Bank highlighted three award-winning anti-poverty projects at a global event broadcasted at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 19. The winning projects incorporate agriculture, food security and nutrition in a single development program.

The contest, known as Harvest Nutrition, was launched jointly by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, or GAIN, the SecureNutrition Knowledge Platform—which is funded by the World Bank Group—and Save the Children UK.

In hosting the contest, the three organizations aimed to showcase projects that “showed the linkages between agriculture, nutrition, and food security,” and that addressed “the principal challenges of integrating a nutrition sensitive approach to agriculture and food security programs.” The awards were granted in three main categories: most scalable approach, most innovative approach and most impact on nutrition.

The three winning projects were awarded $5,000 each in grant funding and are listed as follows:

1. Impact on Nutrition (Zambia): Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN)

“Aiming to increase year-round availability of and access to high-quality foods at the household level, data from RAIN show encouraging results, with increased production of various micronutrient-rich crops, such as leafy green vegetables, and increased dietary diversity during both the hunger and post-harvest seasons. Rigorous data collection and analysis, conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), is integrated into the program design. Implemented by Concern Worldwide.” – World Bank

2. Innovation (Kenya): Shamba Shape Up

“A ‘make-over’ style reality television show targeting rural smallholder farmers, Shamba Shape Up is a clear standout as an innovative platform for presenting and disseminating nutrition messages. Shamba Shape Up, which is implemented by The Mediae Company, reaches more than 10 million farmers in East Africa with tools and information to improve productivity and income on their farms.” – World Bank

3. Scalability (West, Central, and East Africa Regions): N2Africa

“This large-scale multi-country ‘research to development’ project is promoting new technologies for improving productivity of legumes such as groundnut, cowpea and common bean—commonly regarded as women’s crops. N2Africa, which is implemented by Wageningen University, works with a wide variety of stakeholders across the value chain from seed to fork, and from field to market. A strong evaluation system provides the basis for ongoing feedback and learning.” – World Bank

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,  World Bank
Photo: Flickr

Maternal and Child Nutrition
Nutrition during pregnancy and the first 24 months of life is essential for survival and long-term health. Nearly one-third of all child deaths are caused by malnutrition.  However, nutrition is often a neglected aspect of maternal and child health.

It is very important that women eat sufficient calories and nutrients during pregnancy and breast feeding; it is also recommended that women take vitamin C, vitamin D and folic acid.

Malnourished mothers often have malnourished babies. Consequences of poor maternal nutrition include stillbirths and low weight babies. Each year, 30 million low-weight babies are born; this figure accounts for almost one-fourth of all births. An infant is considered to have a low birth weight if it weigh less than 5.5 pounds.

Low birth weight is a determinant of health in infancy, childhood and adulthood. Low birth weight is also strongly related to mortality, morbidity and disability. Poor nutrition during pregnancy has a lasting affect on the health and development throughout life.

There is said to be a critical thousand days from when a mother becomes pregnant until a child reaches the age of 2. If a child does not receive proper nutrition during this period there are long-term consequences. When children do not receive adequate nutrition, their brains do not develop properly, they learn slowly and their physical growth is stunted.

In high-income countries and increasingly in middle-income and low-income countries, obesity and diabetes in pregnant mothers is a concern. Having children be overweight or obese is also becoming a serious health concern. New research shows that a mother’s diet, weight and health status during pregnancy has an impact on whether her child will develop diabetes or obesity in adulthood.

In 2012, the World Health Organization proposed global targets for maternal, infant, and young child nutrition:

  • Global target 1: 40 percent reduction of the global number of children under five who are stunted
  • Global target 2: 50 percent reduction of anemia in non pregnant women of reproductive age
  • Global target 3: 50 percent reduction of low birth weight
  • Global target 4: No increase in having children be overweight

Poor maternal and child nutrition also has a significant impact on economic outcomes. The World Bank reports that poor maternal and child nutrition impacts a countries economic output by 2 percent to 3 percent. Poor nutrition in early life also puts an increased risk on the healthcare system as children with poor nutrition have an increased risk of obesity and chronic health conditions in adulthood.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition is supporting a program to improve maternal and child nutrition, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The program uses private-public sector partnerships to improve the health and nutrition of 10 million children aged six months to 2 years old. The program combines both market and public health solutions to early life nutrition. The provided incentives and support to the private sector in the development and distribution of food products are for at-risk children and the marketing of breastfeeding.

Elizabeth Brown

Sources: World Health Organization, World Health Organization Programmes, World Health Organization Global Targets, UN
Photo: Borgen