Malnutrition represents one of the most formidable challenges of the 21st century. Over 45 percent of child deaths under age 5 globally can be attributed to malnutrition. And those children who are malnourished but survive face limited life opportunities, a higher chance of living in poverty and higher risks of giving birth to malnourished children, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle. In contrast, good nutritional status is linked to improved school completion rates, higher household income and, ultimately, a greater chance at escaping the cycle of poverty and boosting inter-generational equity and prosperity.
Commitments and momentum to address malnutrition have been growing steadily over the past decade, but investments are still lagging behind what is needed. The challenge is now to maintain and increase this momentum by broadening commitments, translating commitments into actions and actions into results. Investing in nutrition offers some of the highest returns on investment in the development field, with benefits across a range of sectors from health and education to broader economic growth.
As we seek more money for nutrition in the immediate term, the nutrition community must also pursue “more nutrition for the money.” Maximizing the returns on investments requires better use of fragmented knowledge about how to effectively deliver nutrition programs at scale and how to translate data effectively for the use of decision makers. It also requires careful planning and engagement across different sectors to address the underlying causes of malnutrition, with an urgent need to invest in transforming food systems and diets, which are now the number one driver of the global burden of disease.
Creative and innovative approaches are needed to increase value for money and find solutions to stubborn challenges that persist in implementation and behavior change.
R4D works with global and country change agents in five main areas:
- Our nutrition financing practice area aims to support resource mobilization efforts and to improve allocation decisions of key funders for nutrition. Our work includes generating analytics on smart financing scenarios, costing analysis and resource tracking.
- Our nutrition innovations practice area aims to support the identification, adaptation and scale up of cost-effective innovative solutions that have the potential to tackle big challenges and gaps in nutrition.
- Our data for decision making in nutrition practice area puts data users at the center of its efforts. We develop tools — including dashboards, scorecards and performance metrics — and support decision-making processes in a way that is designed to solve the practical decision making challenges of change agents.
- Our food systems and market shaping practice area aims to enable and incentivize an ambitious transformation of food systems and diets so that healthy and nutritious foods become aspirational, affordable and widely available and the drivers of investments, comparative advantage and profits for businesses.
- Finally, we also provide support to key change agents driving global, regional or national efforts to tackle malnutrition.
Key examples of our work include:
- Making the case for greater investments in nutrition by developing, in partnership with the World Bank and 1,000 Days, the first-ever Global Investment Framework for Nutrition,which outlined costs and financing scenarios that donors and governments can follow to achieve the World Health Assembly Global Nutrition Targets over the next 10 years.
- Working with the African Development Bank to develop a multisectoral plan of action for nutrition to operationalize AfDB President Adesina’s ambitious vision for improving Africa’s “grey matter infrastructure.”
- Providing direct support — in the form of costing, budgeting and other financing, capacity building and strategic support— in countries that have particularly high malnutrition rates, such as India and Ethiopia.
- Working together with the Innovation Xchange team at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to maximize the impacts of their investments in nutrition and diets innovations including supporting the LAUNCH Food network as it seeks to identify best practices to support and scale innovative ideas to enable people to make healthy food choices.