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7 December, 2021

At today’s critical Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G) in Japan, the UK Government made no financial pledge to tackling global malnutrition and set no target for its impact in this area.

The Covid-19 pandemic is pushing up rates of malnutrition, with an additional 225 children dying each day as a result.

NGOs including Save the Children, Action Against Hunger, Concern Worldwide, Global Citizen, Power of Nutrition, RESULTS UK, and SCI Foundation said today’s summit was a vital opportunity to reverse this devastating trend and called the UK’s failure to make a financial commitment or impact target  ‘deeply concerning.’

All seven organisations are calling for a strong UK pledge to tackle malnutrition, with clear, fully funded commitments. But the UK’s contribution at the summit fell far short of expectations, particularly in comparison to other global development donors, and especially as the UK had previously been a leader in this area and had initiated the first ever N4G summit in 2013.

The agencies said the Minister’s assurance that they would seek to integrate nutrition across other areas of UK aid is welcome but does nothing to reverse the 70% cuts to nutrition-specific programmes which we have seen in the past year.

With 45% of all child deaths linked to malnutrition and 149 million children facing life-long impacts due to stunting, the decision of the UK to step back on this issue will devastate lives and seriously undermines the FCDO’s ambitions in other areas, including ending preventable deaths, tackling gender inequality and strengthening global health.

Kirsty McNeill, Executive Director of Policy, Advocacy & Campaigns at Save the Children, said:

“Almost half of global child deaths are linked to malnutrition, and the effects of the pandemic are creating a hunger crisis for children in many of the world’s most fragile countries. In this context the UK Government’s failure to make any financial or impact commitment at today’s Nutrition for Growth Summit beggars belief.

“While the assurance that the UK will integrate nutrition across other areas of aid spending is welcome, it is no substitute for desperately needed funding or targets and does nothing to remedy the 70% cuts to nutrition programming that we have already seen this year.

“Historically the UK has been a thoughtful and effective donor in the fight against malnutrition, and hosted the first Nutrition for Growth summit in 201​3. But this move suggests that ensuring the poorest and most vulnerable children are well nourished is no longer a priority of the UK’s aid programme.”

  • “At a time when the number of children at risk of dying from malnutrition in the world is rising, I am sorry not to see more ambitious commitments to action from the UK government. It is a measure of the devastating impact of steep UK aid cuts, that tackling the cause of nearly half of young child deaths is not a matter of urgency for the government. With the conclusion of the spending review, we urge the FCDO to make nutrition a priority for future action” - Jean-Michel Grand, Executive Director, Action Against Hunger UK
  • “The lack of commitment by the UK government to tackle malnutrition is disappointing; it compounds the impact of ending UK funding to Neglected Tropical Disease earlier this year - diseases which exacerbate poverty and undernutrition”. Dr Wendy Harrison, CEO, SCI Foundation
  • “The complete absence of a financial commitment from the UK at this year’s Nutrition for Growth summit is shocking. It is irresponsible for the UK to be stepping back just as we are witnessing catastrophic increases in global hunger and malnutrition in the countries we work in, driven by conflict, the climate crisis and Covid-19.” Danny Harvey, Concern Worldwide UK Executive Director
  • "We are hugely disappointed with the UK government's lack of commitment at the Tokyo N4G Summit. This was an opportunity to demonstrate 'Global Britain' in action, to show that Britain is a country that cares and recognises that in the 21st century no child should be malnourished. This sadly signals the end of a decade of British global leadership in nutrition. As a result, millions of the world’s most vulnerable children will go hungry and fail to fulfil their potential, in turn ensuring their communities and countries will also not reach their potential, making it harder for them to escape poverty. We urge the FCDO to continue to work with The Power of Nutrition and the wider nutrition sector to make a prompt return to the 0.7% aid commitment and to scale nutrition investments accordingly." Simon Bishop, CEO, The Power of Nutrition
  • "The UK has missed a crucial opportunity to make an ambitious commitment to reach people with life saving and life changing nutrition interventions at the N4G Summit. The Government’s rhetoric about its global leadership was undermined today by not even making meaningful commitments, let alone backing up its words with financing and action." Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK


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