One in four of the world’s children are stunted. In developing countries this figure is as high as one in three. That means their body and brain has failed to develop properly because of malnutrition. 80% of stunted children live in just 20 countries. Nigeria is projected to have 1.6 million additional stunted children and by 2020 Tanzania is projected to have 450,000 extra stunted children. This crisis is not new. Progress on reducing malnutrition has been pitifully slow for 20 years. But a combination of global trends - climate change, volatile food prices, economic uncertainty and demographic shifts - is putting future progress on tackling malnutrition at risk. Every hour of every day, 300 children die because of malnutrition. It’s an underlying cause of more than a third of children’s deaths - 2.6 million every year. But it’s not recorded on death certificates and, as a result, it’s not effectively addressed.
The global system by which food is produced, distributed and consumed is currently failing to meet the nutritional needs of much of the world’s population. Making the food system work for nutrition means more than simply increasing production – more food does not automatically mean better nutrition. The focus must be on the final outcome – improving children’s diets. Investing in small farmers and female farmers is key – three-quarters of Africa’s malnourished children live on small farms and 43% of agricultural work is carried out by women.