Nutrition and Food Security: What Matters Most

Posted by Paul Weisenfeld
June 14, 2011
Women Harvest Wheat Near Ahmadabad, India

Every day, two billion people in the world do not consume enough nutrients to live healthy, productive lives. As the head of the Bureau for Food Security at USAID, the magnitude of this number -- two billion -- is why I am so serious about my work. As a father, another number resonates with me: 200 million. That is the number of kids who suffer from chronic undernutrition worldwide. This is a serious issue that contributes to chronic hunger, poverty, and susceptibility to disease.

That's where my work -- and that of my colleagues from across the U.S. government, private sector, civil society, and host-country governments -- comes in. Building on decades of support for development programs, the United States is strengthening partnerships and integrating its global nutrition and agriculture investments like never before. Nutrition is the defining link between the U.S. Feed the Future and Global Health initiatives, which aim to reduce undernutrition through integrated investments in health, agriculture, and social protection.

There are countless reasons why this is important: Good nutrition can be a critical driver for economic growth and poverty reduction. Nutrition programs can empower women and girls by increasing their access to assets and education. By linking our agriculture and nutrition programs, we contribute to healthier, more productive and resilient communities by ensuring better access to better quality food, which increases the quality and diversity of diets. Our efforts also improve accessibility to water and sanitation and health systems, and support better nutritional practices in the household.

I was honored to participate today in a panel focused on the critical 1,000 day window between pregnancy and a child's second birthday at a panel discussion during Bread for the World's 2011 National Gathering conference. Children suffering from undernutrition in this period face physical stunting and mental impairment that cannot be reversed, so later in life they suffer poorer performance in school and lower incomes. That's not something I take lightly; nor does the U.S. government. We are strategically focusing our nutrition efforts on this 1,000 day window to help ensure that pregnant mothers and their children are afforded a better, healthier, more prosperous and happy future.

I want that for my own daughter, and for those 200 million kids, too.

We need to work together, pushing for innovative and creative solutions to undernutrition and food insecurity. I look forward to meeting next week with some of the brightest minds in agriculture and food security at the Feed the Future Research Forum in Washington, D.C., as we collaborate to do just that. In the weeks and months ahead, together, we can make an impact in the fight against hunger and poverty -- and in the lives of millions of people across the globe.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the USAID Impact Blog.



Ashim C.
June 26, 2011

Ashim in India writes:


these initiatives ought to be supported by new standards in governance to to improve and perfect the delivery mechanisms. incidentally these issues are major issues in india too. the current hot debate in india on creation of ombudsman and ridding the society of corruption are related to it.

in this connection, one would urge usa a to take initiative in united nations to draft a set of model bills on ombudsman to be adoption by all member states. to add moral punch to that initiative us congress and senate and legislatures of the states must pass bills for a strong ombudsman. usa is worlds strongest democracy. it is widely followed, hugely respected and sets new benchmarks in all important aspects life even now.
in many developing countries many of the poverty alleviation measures like food security and related governance related issues in asia, africa, latin america and europe too shall get the right orientation if this happens in un.
there is another connected issue. in all democracies around the world (usa included) there is one defficiency, which to my mind is the mother of most evils. that defficiency is that all political parties and individuals seeking election to constitutional elected bodies make many good promises but once elected don't act on it. and citizens can do little but change their representative in periodical elections. promises are exaggerated, impractical but always good sounding. how can this state of affair be allowed to continue.

think of it election manifestos and promises mobilise general will of people, which is the very basis legitimacy of all genuine democratic governments. therefore, again as the number one and the strongest democracy in the world, usa ought to take initiatives to make election manifestos adjudicable in courts of law. it is absolutely irrational that promises of a product as trivial as say chewing gum or toilet paper are adjudicable but election manifestos and electoral promises are.

June 26, 2011

Krishna M. in India writes:


On 11 Th July every year world’s celebrates World population day. On the world’s population day, here are amazing free and effortless ways to build your heaven with single child family’s 70 benefits, as well as reduce the burden of world’s population.

Hunger, scarcity of water, unsolved illiteracy, ever increasing violence, regional disputes, unhappiness, competition, pollution ….. for these unlimited problems the route cause is ever-increasing world population. Controlling population is not only the responsibility of the concerned individual governments, but also the prime strength rather than member’s strength.

Here are amazing, unlimited awareness tips for the newlyweds to build their undreamt heaven and absolutely free on earth with smallest family i.e. single child family adoption.

BENEFIT’S TO THE CHILD: You can bring up the single child in the best way as per your dreams. It will prevent the child going on in wrong ways, because of families’ total concentration. If something happens to one of the young parents, the surviving parent can bring up the child with least burden. In the eventuality of the death of both the parents any relative can take care of the lonely child. There will be no necessity of seats reservation in colleges, jobs reservation for various categories as everybody gets enough opportunities due to less population. No unemployment problem. If the single child cannot get a good job, then he can pursue his parents’/in-laws’ profession. The eligible single child will be of high demand for marriage alliances with choicest offers. Child mortality rate drastically comes down, because of optimum care & caution. Parents neglecting non-performing child, will not arise.

BENEFITS TO THE FAMILY: Your family will never face hunger. Your generations will not suffer illiteracy. In the alarming scarcity of water situation you will have the least water problem. Family can enjoy maximum privacy, silence as well as maximum leisure. The entire family members enjoy smooth and happy life the satisfaction of their dreams. Parents can become free early from their family responsibilities. Tension will be absolutely nil in the family, therefore the family members will have peaceful and long life. Single child family is the sweetest family, as there will be less family disputes. It will reduce stress, strain, worries, and botherations in many ways. Single child family enjoys special status in the society. In case of any eventuality, remarriage of the surviving parent is easily possible. Even if, something happens to both the parent, surviving single child responsibility can be taken by any relative. Dowry related problems like disputes, harassment, deaths; couple separation will be enormously reduced.

BENEFITS TO THE SOCIETY: Because of the population control, pollution reduces and you can breathe fresh air and live long. Drastically reduces the birth of disabled children. It will result in physically, emotionally and mentally stronger society, as the single child concept will encourage breast –feeding of babies. As the human values grow up the crime rate comes down. Alarmingly lowering of female birth ratio will come back to normal. Because of literacy, intellectual, creative, scientific society takes shape. Philanthropic activities will increase. Many social problems like child labour, child marriage, begging etc will be eliminated. It will route out hunger/poverty/humiliation/stigma related to mass family suicides. Poverty/hunger related forced prostitution/sex trade will reduce.


For full details of 70 benefits see the Awareness Mission website.

July 28, 2011

Conrad in Canada writes:

2 billion people are undernourished. That's nearly one-third of the worlds population or 29.5%.

These numbers are actually more terrifying than you may think. In North American, Europe, Japan and other similar nations that are more developed, the number of people who are malnourished is less than 5% of the total population and that's at the high end. If you exclude the population of those nations (approx 1.39 billion) and the 5% of those who are malnourished (approx. 700,000) that means that almost 36% of the rest of the worlds population is malnourished. Perhaps those numbers are even greater!

Something is terribly wrong when those numbers are that high. Something that terrifies me even more is that as nearly every nation continues to grow, there will be less land to cultivate as populations expand and there will be less food to be had for everyone and not just the poor.

According to 'finfacts', global food production will have to increase 70% for the additional 2.3 billion people by 2050.


Another terrifying thought is that fresh water is becoming more difficult to find and desalinization is still far too expensive to fully utilize. However, it is our only hope to continue to supply water for all:


I truly hope that we can start to fix this food crisis. Awareness is one thing that can help, but many people simply aren't doing enough. Without a doubt wars and civil upheaval will start to occur as the basic necessities of life become sparse.

Thanks for the article!



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