Why Nu­tri­tion is a Smart De­vel­op­ment In­vest­ment

“If breast­feed­ing did not al­ready ex­ist, some­one who in­vented it to­day would de­serve a dual No­bel Prize in medicine and eco­nom­ics.” - World Bank Vice Pres­i­dent of Hu­man De­vel­op­ment, Keith Hansen

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Access - By Ju­lia Day­ton Eber­wein; co-au­thors: Michelle Me­hta, Meera Shekar

This is a sen­ti­ment long-shared by many of us in the nu­tri­tion com­mu­nity and as the global move­ment in nu­tri­tion grows, so does our body of ev­i­dence sup­port­ing how pow­er­ful nu­tri­tion in­ter­ven­tions are for in­di­vid­u­als and for so­ci­eties.

We now know that in­ter­ven­tions like im­proved nu­tri­tion for preg­nant moth­ers, iron and folic acid sup­ple­men­ta­tion for non-preg­nant women, im­proved feed­ing prac­tices in­clud­ing breast­feed­ing, im­proved child nu­tri­tion in­clud­ing mi­cronu­tri­ent sup­ple­men­ta­tion, pro­breast­feed­ing so­cial poli­cies and na­tional cam­paigns, and sta­ple food for­ti­fi­ca­tion, sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce stunt­ing in chil­dren, re­duce ane­mia in women, save lives, and give mas­sive re­turns on in­vest­ment, up to $35 for ev­ery dol­lar spent. In­vest­ments in nu­tri­tion dur­ing the first 1,000 days, from preg­nancy to a child's sec­ond birth­day, are not only among the smartest de­vel­op­ment in­vest­ments, lay­ing the ground­work for suc­cess­ful in­vest­ments in other sec­tors, but will also pave the way for to­day's chil­dren to drive tomorrow's grow­ing economies.

A new World Bank re­port, An In­vest­ment Frame­work for Nu­tri­tion, with in­puts from Re­sults for De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute and 1,000 Days, finds that in­vest­ing $10 per child per year above cur­rent spend­ing over the next decade is needed to achieve the global nu­tri­tion tar­gets for stunt­ing, ane­mia, breast­feed­ing and the scal­ing up of the treat­ment of se­vere wast­ing. In­vest­ing in nu­tri­tion-spe­cific in­ter­ven­tions to reach these tar­gets by 2025 will have enor­mous im­pacts, in­clud­ing:

·65 mil­lion cases of child­hood stunt­ing

pre­vented in 2025

·265 mil­lion cases of ane­mia in women

pre­vented in 2025

·91mil­lion more chil­dren un­der five years of age would be treated for se­vere wast­ing

·105 mil­lion ad­di­tional ba­bies would be ex­clu­sively breast­fed dur­ing the first six months of life

·3.7 mil­lion child deaths averted in 2025

With so many com­pet­ing de­vel­op­ment ob­jec­tives, how can pol­i­cy­mak­ers pri­or­i­tize in­vest­ments? One way to do this is to com­pare ben­e­fit-cost ra­tios across in­ter­ven­tions and pro­grams. Ev­ery dol­lar in­vested in this pack­age of in­ter­ven­tions would yield be­tween $4 and $35 in eco­nomic re­turns, mak­ing in­vest­ing in early nu­tri­tion one of the best value-for­money de­vel­op­ment ac­tions. In do­ing this, the ground­work is laid for the suc­cess of in­vest­ments in other sec­tors, as im­proved nu­tri­tion out­comes can have rip­ple ef­fects across an in­di­vid­ual's liveli­hood and pro­duc­tiv­ity.

In an en­vi­ron­ment of con­strained re­sources where the world could not af­ford $7 bil­lion per year over 10 years, pri­or­i­ties would need to be set. In ad­di­tion to the full pack­age, the In­vest­ment Frame­work for Nu­tri­tion also lays out two al­ter­na­tive pack­ages that would kick-start ready-toscale in­ter­ven­tions and in­vest in un­der­stand­ing de­liv­ery plat­forms and more cost-ef­fec­tive strate­gies for scal­ing up in­ter­ven­tions with bot­tle­necks in a more phased-in ap­proach, with the strong caveat that nei­ther pack­age will reach all of the global tar­gets by 2025. How­ever, the im­pacts of these pack­ages could still be sig­nif­i­cant.

·The pri­or­ity “ready-to-scale” pack­age, over 10 years, would cost $2.3 bil­lion per year, save 2.2 mil­lion child lives and pre­vent child­hood stunt­ing in 50 mil­lion. ·The cat­alyz­ing progress “phased-in”

pack­age over 10 years would cost $3.7 bil­lion per year, save 2.6 mil­lion child lives and pre­vent child­hood stunt­ing in 58 mil­lion chil­dren.

Now that we know how much we can achieve and at what price tag, how are these ac­tions fi­nanced? As with other ar­eas that the SDGs aim to ad­dress, a mix of do­mes­tic on-budget al­lo­ca­tions from coun­try gov­ern­ments com­bined with of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance, and newly emerg­ing in­no­va­tive fi­nanc­ing mech­a­nisms cou­pled with house­hold contributions, could fi­nance the re­main­ing gap. This un­der­scores again the ex­tent to which a whole-of-so­ci­ety ef­fort is needed for fi­nanc­ing the achieve­ment of the nu­tri­tion tar­gets in the con­text of the broader sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals. Achiev­ing the tar­gets is within reach if part­ners work to­gether to im­me­di­ately step up in in­vest­ments in nu­tri­tion. In­deed, some coun­tries (Peru, Sene­gal, and oth­ers) have shown that rapid scale-up of nu­tri­tion in­ter­ven­tions can be achieved and lead to swift de­clines in stunt­ing.

This re­port was ini­tially launched at the 2016 World Bank An­nual Meet­ings where a Hu­man Cap­i­tal Sum­mit high­lighted coun­try com­mit­ment to in­vest­ment in the Early Years from the Prime Min­is­ter of Cote d'Ivoire, and Fi­nance Min­is­ters of Cameroon, Ethiopia, In­done­sia, Mada­gas­car, Pak­istan, Sene­gal, and Tan­za­nia. As a fol­low up to the Hu­man Cap­i­tal Sum­mit, a Spot­light on Nu­tri­tion event will be held at the World Bank-IMF Spring Meet­ings 2017 on the im­por­tance of nu­tri­tion as an in­vest­ment to un­lock hu­man cap­i­tal and eco­nomic pros­per­ity. This high-level event will serve as an­other col­lec­tive step for­ward as we work to­gether to mo­bi­lize political com­mit­ment and fi­nan­cial re­sources to­wards achiev­ing the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goal of end­ing all forms of mal­nu­tri­tion by 2030.

Child­hood years are lim­ited, and each day that passes with­out ac­tion to ad­dress stunt­ing and im­prove other nu­tri­tion out­comes di­min­ishes the po­ten­tial to save chil­dren's lives, build fu­ture hu­man cap­i­tal and gray-mat­ter in­fra­struc­ture, and pro­vide equal op­por­tu­nity for all chil­dren to drive faster eco­nomic growth. Not only will these in­vest­ments ben­e­fit the chil­dren di­rectly af­fected but also ben­e­fit us all in the form of more ro­bust and equal so­ci­eties.

A mal­nour­ished child be­ing fed

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