In a world of increasing globalization and development, nutrition reaches beyond the bounds of a single food item or individual to encompass entire communities and nations, food systems, health systems and institutions. Nutrition is not only a basic human need for survival but has far reaching implications for growth, health and prosperity.
As a global community, we have invested heavily and made significant progress in improving nutrition over the past few decades. This resource, Nourishing Lives and Building the Future: The History of Nutrition at USAID describes much of USAID’s investments and contributions to this progress, achieved by working closely with implementing partners, host countries, civil society, the private sector, the global research community and other key stakeholders. Our shared accomplishments remind us how far we have come, but as we look at the trends today and challenges ahead, there is still much work left to be done.
Millions of children around the world still face the devastating and long-lasting effects of malnutrition. As a global community, we need to accelerate collective action to reach our global nutrition goals. This will require increased commitment and action from many sectors and actors — we must all see improving nutrition as being a part of our jobs. Progress will require new partners to come to the table and find ways to maximize the impact of existing resources.
As USAID’s 18th Administrator Mark Green states, “the purpose of foreign aid is to end the need for its existence.” USAID is committed to helping countries increase their investment in and capacity to improve nutrition so they are able to reach a point when foreign assistance is no longer needed. However, malnutrition prevents progress on a country’s journey to self-reliance. It is therefore critical that countries recognize nutrition as a driver of national development and worthy of prominent attention and increased funding.
To further deliver on nutrition progress, USAID has elevated nutrition to the most senior levels across the Agency, recognizing that nutrition underpins all of the work we do. We are also increasing investment in nutrition research, exploring innovative ways to engage with the private sector and improving how we collect data and track progress on nutrition. USAID is committed to working across sectors to deliver coordinated, high-quality programs that address the drivers of malnutrition, as outlined in our Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy (2014-2025). But the U.S. Government cannot do it alone. We aim to spark action from other stakeholders to accelerate collective progress on nutrition. We are working toward the day when all children can have the opportunity to fully grow and develop into healthy adults and productive members of society, and toward the day when all countries are able to address their citizens’ nutrition needs.