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Poverty reduction through nutritious foods

Worldwide, approximately three billion people have poor-quality diets and more than two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Nearly 25 per cent of children under the age of five are chronically undernourished.

Malnutrition causes health problems and losses in economic productivity, including GDP losses. Over the course of their lifetimes, malnourished individuals can earn 10 per cent less than those who are well-nourished.

Without access to adequate, affordable, nutritious food, generations remain trapped in poverty, unable to take advantage of educational and job opportunities to fulfil their potential.

Investing in nutrition through agriculture is not only socially responsible, it is sound development policy and good economics. Its impact is multi-generational, allowing children to reach their full physical and intellectual potential, so that they can grow into healthy adults and lift themselves out of poverty.

At the forefront of nutrition-sensitive agriculture

Improving food security through better food production systems is at the heart of IFAD’s work. We design our projects through a nutrition- and gender-sensitive lens, helping rural people to improve their diets by growing and consuming diverse, nutritious, safe and affordable foods.

To combat malnutrition, we combine our solid technical knowledge with investments in nutrition- and gender-sensitive agriculture, through unique food-based approaches. We finance nutritional education and support actions that reshape food systems and improve nutrition security.

We also pay special attention to the role of women and adolescent girls, who make up a large percentage of the workforce in agriculture and food systems in developing countries. They are also the safeguards of nutritious diets in their households.

Empowering women by improving their knowledge of nutrition, as well as promoting maternal nutrition and nutrition of adolescent girls, dietary intake, and hygiene behaviours, can reduce undernutrition for entire generations.

Gender-sensitive agricultural projects help ensure women have more control over resources and that both rural men and women understand the important role that they can play in supporting good nutrition.

Climate change exacerbates the already vast burden of malnutrition and undermines current efforts to reduce hunger and promote nutrition.

As a result, IFAD has increased its commitment to providing resources for issues related to nutrition and is mainstreaming nutrition, gender and climate change actions across all of its programmes and projects.

We promote dialogue among concerned partners, including ministries of agriculture and health, as well as between other areas of government and civil society. This strengthens understanding, brokers collaboration, and promotes new pathways for nutrition- and gender-sensitive agriculture.

IFAD also taps into other reservoirs of knowledge and collaborates with institutions with specialized research skills such as national agricultural research centres and international institutes.

Worldwide knowledge-sharing and collaboration

Governments and development partners around the world are increasingly focused on nutrition-enhancing agricultural investments.

More than 50 countries have now committed to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, a clear demonstration that nutrition is high on the global agenda.

IFAD plays an active role in the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), a platform dedicated to an open, substantive and constructive dialogue on global nutrition strategies and initiatives. The UNSCN is currently chaired by IFAD's Vice-President, Cornelia Richter.

Food and nutrition security is both an indicator and a driver of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It is also an investment in the future.

For this reason, the scope of global malnutrition demands a robust and collaborative approach, driven by the local realities of smallholders and rural food systems.

Spotlight

Making local crops work for nutrition-sensitive agriculture

A new framework will guide practitioners to use a broad portfolio of crop species to bring nutrition back to the table.

Projects

Benin

The Market Gardening Development Support Project
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Niger

Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region
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Lao People's Democratic Republic

Southern Laos Food and Nutrition Security and Market Linkages Programme
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Related news

As climate shocks intensify, UN food agencies urge more support for southern Africa's hungry people

October 2019 - NEWS
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for urgent funding to avert a major hunger crisis and for the international community to step up investment in long-term measures to combat the impact of climate shocks and build the capacity of communities and countries to withstand them.

Sudan and IFAD to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change and manage natural resources

October 2019 - NEWS
With over 80 per cent of the Sudanese labour force engaged in agriculture, a new €77.7 million programme that aims to increase food security and ensure access to natural resources is a vital investment in Sudan’s future.

‘This is how we rise’ – Rural Women’s Day

October 2019 - NEWS
A powerful short film featuring acclaimed poet Maya Angelou was launched today by IFAD on the International Day of Rural Women to raise awareness of the power and potential of rural women to help fight global hunger.

Related publications

How to do note: Mainstreaming nutrition into COSOPs and investment projects

October 2019

This How-to-do Note is a practical step by step operational guidance on mainstreaming nutrition in IFAD-supported country strategies and investment projects for use by IFAD staff, consultants and partners.

The Food Loss Reduction Advantage: Building sustainable food systems

September 2019
Around one third of the food globally produced is estimated to be lost or wasted along the supply chain. These losses affect disproportionally developing countries.

Supporting nutrition-sensitive agriculture through neglected and underutilized species: Operational framework

August 2019
Agrobiodiversity is a resource that supports human and environmental wellbeing. IFAD’s support for the better use of agrobiodiversity with specific reference to neglected and underutilized species (NUS).

Related documents

IFAD Action Plan Nutrition 2019-2025

August 2019 - CORPORATE
This Nutrition Action Plan (NAP) 2019 2025 sets out the framework to guide IFAD’s actions to accelerate mainstreaming of nutrition into its investments.

Videos

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Bangladesh: Small fish, big gains
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Laos: Nutritious Entertainment
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