Change a Life, Change the Future: Promoting Child Nutrition

September 22, 2010

About the Author: Caitlin Klevorick serves in the Office of the Counselor of the Department.

If you have a child, take a moment to think back on everything that happened up until he or she turned two: think about all that growing, changing, exploring, learning. Adequate nutrition is key to child development. When expectant mothers and their children don't receive the nutrients they need, they are more likely to face hardships throughout their lives. Globally, 200 million children suffer from chronic under-nutrition; in some countries, as many as half of all children are affected.

There are some problems in the world to which we don't yet have solutions. There's another class of problems, though, for which the solutions are both clear and achievable. Preventing childhood under-nutrition falls in that second category. But, as Secretary Clinton said in her remarks today, “while we have life-saving solutions, they remain out of reach for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. And it also is a problem that even when we have such solutions, when it comes to delivering them -- particularly to rural communities -- the last mile is the longest.”

Yesterday, at the United Nations in New York, Secretary Clinton and Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin hosted "1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future: Partnering to Reduce Child Undernutrition.” The event focused on interventions that can be made during that critical thousand-day window: the period that includes the mother's pregnancy up to the child's second birthday.

Last year, in Aquila, Italy, global leaders at the G8 Summit pledged to reverse a lack of investment in food security, including child nutrition. President Obama pledged at least USD $3.5 billion over three years, which helped to leverage and align more than USD $18.5 billion in support of a common approach.

In recent months, more than 100 donors, governments, non-governmental organizations, development agencies and businesses have come together in partnership to create Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN): A Framework for Action, which outlines specific priorities to improve infant and child nutrition.

At yesterday's meeting, world ministers discussed their collective commitment to spend the next thousand days moving forward on a roadmap to implement SUN -- attempting to close that final mile -- building on the success of Ireland's Hunger Task Force and the U.S. programs “Feed the Future” and the Global Health Initiative.

Healthy child development creates healthy, educated, productive adults and underpins national prosperity and success. It is a prerequisite for the achievement of each of the Millennium Development Goals. The problem is serious, but the evidence is strong that our interventions will offer exceptionally high development returns. As Secretary Clinton said today, “We know we can save lives, we can strengthen health, we can improve education, decrease poverty, increase prosperity, even create jobs, as well as giving every child the chance he or she deserves to make the most of his or her God-given potential.”

Please take a moment to watch this short video, narrated by Matt Damon, about the importance of nutrition for children and expectant mothers, and share it with your friends. Together we can better the future for millions of children. Visit to learn more.

You can read a transcript of the Secretary's remarks here.

Related Entry: Behind the Scenes: “1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future.”



United States
September 23, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Exactly and all the more reason to develop early childhood programs in developing nations because at least teachers could ensure that a child has 2-3 nutritious meals/day. If a child's last meal is around 3-4pm you could ensure that the child isn't going to bed completely starving. Early childhood programs can teach mothers what exactly a nutritious meal contains, how to serve it, how to store it, how to keep one's kitchen clean and pest free. These programs can be inexpensively set up in a tin shack structure. The important thing being that education in all forms is occurring. Teach mothers and children during the day, fathers and others at night. Early childhood programs are the basis of a village educational system and can be linked nationwide. Call it "Tin Shack" schools, a meeting place where dynamic and informative education/nutrition and healthcare takes place. All services like eye, dental and medical services can be served in one stop fits all fashion. Families can be medically served by adopting the care of the children. eg. Child x has parasites. Water purification people notified, a clean, village well is drilled and the school teaches the village elders to maintain it. If villages maintain their autonomy with their own schools/monthly healthcare check-ups by a roving medical team they will relieve pressure from the central government so that a bigger infrastructure can eventually be put in place. Its a micro-macro approach. Concentrate on one area then expand in ever larger circles out towards the periphery. Constantly moving, innovating, changing. I would bring all services down to the school level initially until a larger city/governmental structure is formed. This is the OysterCracker way to development and I know it could work.

United States
September 23, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Using "The Tin Roof school" idea you could get teaching professionals from around the world to train teachers in undeveloped countries by having a constant stream of teachers using their vacation time or regular time (subsidized by richer countries) to teach in two week curriculum units. For eg. Teacher A from England is bored from those long, cold, English wintery nights. He signs up for the International Teacher Corps and is sent by his government to teach a two week stint on a "Theories of Development" course in Africa. African teachers are exposed to a well respected teacher. The African teachers learn a new teaching style and effective strategies that work for different student age levels. Teacher B from Australia is co-opted by his government to teach a workshop on the "The Use of Creative Materials in Early Childhood Education". Regional teacher training colleges complete with a school lab for local children could be built that are all inclusive. Inexpensive, and have clean and inviting accomodations for teachers and African students. The African government subsidizes their students. Other nations provide the teaching staff and bring gifts of age appropiate materials. Using a method like this would ensure a steady stream of pre-vetted professional teachers eager to train African teachers. If teachers are paid their normal salaries while teaching they would probably appreciate a foreign assignment to break up the monotony of those cold, dreary English, American winters. Regional teaching colleges could quickly train many teachers to get Africa's school system up and running. A template school system having already been established. The centers could serve as a dynamic center of educational interchange. Governments would save millions in giving direct aid by only supporting the teacher and any donated school supplies and the initial start up investment of getting regional teacher's colleges built and functioning. This would allow the African government to assist in their own development by supporting its teachers while they are being trained. A lab school would offer African teachers an oppportunity to hone their skills in an classroom with students under a Master teacher's supervision. Within a year, Africa could have many trained teachers and an on-going partnership with the world's educational community which they could draw upon and be part of into the future.

Austin d.
Texas, USA
September 26, 2010

Austin P. in Texas writes:

Steps for which the world may change is tried above. Thanks a lot....

R. B.
September 29, 2010

DipNote Bloggers reply:

@O.C. - There's a Fulbright Teacher Exchange program ( that I think might capture some of your idea. (The deadline for their 2011-2012 exchange is coming up -- please forward the link to any teachers that you know!)

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