Steve Lewis, Head of Policy Advocacy, RESULTS UK, attended the launch of The Power of Nutrition in Washington yesterday. Here he explains why this new fund is so important. The Power of Nutrition, a major new fund for nutrition was launched in the World Bank yesterday. Driven by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and supported by DFID and other major donors, the new fund aims to raise $1billion much needed funding by 2020. At yesterday’s event, attended by staff from RESULTS and the ACTION Global Health Advocacy Partnership, CIFF announced that an initial $200 million is now available. Why is the New Fund Crucial? 161 million children around the world are stunted because of undernutrition. This means their cognitive development is impaired and their educational chances are almost certainly limited. Stunting limits the life chances of an individual but it also has a massive negative impact on economic growth of entire nations. “Undernutrition directly contributes to economic loss of up to 11% of GDP” explained Michael Anderson from CIFF at yesterday’s launch. The launch of The Power of Nutrition is an important moment in efforts to build an improved global response to the silent tragedy of undernutrition. The Power of Advocacy and Campaigns In the last few years, RESULTS grassroots have been campaigning hard to increase attention to this neglected area. Two years ago, major donors came together in London for Nutrition for Growth. Our grassroots played an important role ahead of the conference to ensure David Cameron played a key role in this conference; which resulted in a the UK Government committing £655 million in new funds to tackle undernutrition. RESULTS grassroots also joined the IF campaign to demand ‘Enough Food for Everyone’, and through efforts, such as getting letters published in local media, meeting with MPs, taking part in marches in London and Belfast, they put pressure on the G7 leaders, to increase their focus on food and nutrition. Speaking with World Bank staff before the launch it was acknowledged that this work has paid off. Tim Evans, Head of the World Bank Health, Nutrition and Population Programme stated that, “the awareness and advocacy campaign in the last year two years has been successful. What has lagged behind is implementation. It’s a new impetus of funding that is needed now.” How Will The New Fund Work? The new funding uses a matching approach. Initial donations are sourced from foundations and from the ultra-rich, with funds then matched by World Bank IDA and implementing agencies, such as UNICEF. Through this mechanism a donation of $10 million by one donor can be leveraged against other sources to result in actual funds for nutrition programmes which are 3 to 5 times greater. “Investment in nutrition programmes is known to be one of the most cost-effective interventions”, said Keith Hansen, Head of Global Practices at the Bank. “It’s fast working, within the first two years of life, and is irreversible. Some development outcomes can go backwards, due to natural disasters, or changes in policy for example… but a well-nourished child will always benefit, throughout their life, from a better start”. Tanzania: The Impact of Funding Nutrition I was especially happy to attend the launch because of the keynote speaker, Saada Mkuya Salum, Minister of Finance, Tanzania. Tanzania has been making significant progress on undernutrition. After many years of stagnation, the number of stunted children is now declining: around 2.5% annually. Tanzania has a well-developed and integrated programme to work on undernutrition, with nine government ministries collaborating on a joint programme, with a senior coordinator operating from the Prime Minister’s office. I visited Tanzania in 2013 with a RESULTS cross-party delegation of British MPs. We visited nutrition projects and to meet the Prime Ministers coordination unit. The UK MPs used their experiences in Tanzania to raise the profile of nutrition in the UK parliament since their return. Since our visit DIFD Tanzania have begun to fund a major nutrition programme. Listening to the Minister outlining progress in the country made me feel happy that little by little the world is waking up to the scandal of undernutrition. And through initiatives such as Power of Nutrition, implementing agencies, NGOs and community groups should begin to have increased resources to reach those 160 million stunted children. Want to find out more about the Power of Nutrition? Watch the launch event!