World Bank ramps up support for nutrition programs

A malnourished child at the Wajir District Hospital in Kenya. The World Bank pledges $600 million to fund nutrition activities and intervention programs to address maternal malnutrition and childhood stunting. Photo by: Colin Crowley / CC BY

Donor pledges aimed at addressing malnutrition have started to pour in ahead of the first international conference on the cause in London. Among the first is a commitment from the World Bank.

The Washington, D.C.-based financial institution announced on Thursday plans to provide up to $600 million for interventions tackling maternal undernutrition and childhood stunting for 2013-2014, a more than 200 percent increase from last year’s $230 million pledge.

Ninety percent of the new funding will come from the bank’s anti-poverty arm, the International Development Association, and among the countries set to benefit are Afghanistan, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Pakistan and Peru, a World Bank official told Devex.

The institution will also continue its funding for nutrition interventions in Burundi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Yemen, countries where bank assistance have included research on the benefits of food fortification or an improvement in health service delivery focused on nutrition-specific activities.

All these countries  except for Afghanistan and India  are all part of the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative, which the bank supports.

The World Bank provided Devex a list of nutrition activities it plans to support, which include:

  • Capacity building in nutrition planning and policy development.

  • Integrating nutrition education and behavior change communication in interventions.

  • Using food-based safety nets with nutrition objectives.

  • Including nutrition components in early childhood development, reproductive health and other programs.

  • Improving breastfeeding practices.

  • Providing food supplements to malnourished women and children.

All of the announced funding will go to “any or all” of these activities, the official said.

In addition, the bank will “step up” technical support to countries with high prevalence of stunting or underweight children, and add stunting as an indicator in its corporate scorecard.

“Globally, 165 million children under age 5 are stunted as a result of malnutrition. This is the face of poverty,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.