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 thousanddays.org to learn more.
You can read a transcript of the Secretary's remarks here.