Release of the USAID Nutrition Strategy: A critical step forward
USAID released a comprehensive Nutrition Strategy on their website for public comment on December 20, 2013. The design of a USAID nutrition strategy recognizes the essential role that nutrition plays in individuals' and countries' development and is a benchmark toward the development of a broader U.S. government nutrition strategy. USAID's efforts to improve nutrition are critical to success of the U.S. government's ability to advance global development, particularly in the areas of ending preventable child deaths, improving health, driving greater progress against hunger and food insecurity and promoting resilient communities.
I am particularly excited and encouraged to see the recognition of the multi-sectoral nature of nutrition in this strategy. Specifically, the inclusion of WASH as an illustrative action for IR 1.3 Increased availability and access to high quality nutrition-sensitive services and commodities (pg. 14-16) demonstrates this important pathway through which investments in the WASH sector contribute to the goal of improving nutrition outcomes.
The three high-level goals to be addressed through the USAID nutrition strategy—child stunting, wasting, and women's anemia—are critical to reducing preventable child deaths and increasing child survival. Thereis clear and resounding evidence that WASH is one of the most effective ways to reduce child mortality, bolster resilience to disease and ensure healthy development. USAID plans to prioritize actions in this sector as well as both nutrition-specific and -sensitive interventions.
USAID is also committed to making the design of this strategy as inclusive as possible and held a public consultation yesterday with over 100 participants from the nutrition community. The receptivity and enthusiasm of USAID's senior officials during this consultation process was promising and demonstrated how important it is to work together as one to combat malnutrition globally. To take a quote from the draft strategy, “the chance to come together as a dynamic and diverse global nutrition community [and work] towards a vision bigger than what any one organization or sector can achieve alone.”
The future of nutrition lies in the growing recognition that we must harmonize our efforts to have a truly great impact. This strategy offers a great opportunity to continue moving forward in that direction.
Photo credit: Heng Chivoan