Conflicts, Covid and Climate Change Are Reversing Progress on Malnutrition in Asia
NEW DELHI, Feb. 21, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) today held an open discussion on its new strategy: ‘Healthier Diets For All, Leaving No One Behind!’
The new strategy aims to amplify the growing urgency and awareness of the importance of transforming our food systems to tackle both human development and planetary needs. A lack of consistent access to safe and nutritious food diminishes dietary quality, resulting in negative consequences for nutrition and overall well-being, in turn causing long-term damage to individuals, communities and societies.
1.3 billion people across South Asia have mineral and vitamin deficiencies, while around 390 million suffer from obesity or are overweight. Conflict, COVID-19 and the increased severity of the impacts of climate change have reversed the progress of recent years in addressing malnutrition and hunger in the region. And at the root of all forms of malnutrition is the lack of access to affordable healthy diets.
In response to this, GAIN’s new strategy focuses on improving access through sustainable food systems. By 2027, GAIN aims to:
- Improve access of 1.5 billion people to nutritionally-enhanced staple foods.
- Sustainably transform the diets of 25 million people to healthier diets.
- Support food systems change in 10 countries to help meet SDG targets.
It is very clear the world cannot address climate change without addressing food system transformation. And trends indicate that millions living in South Asia will be at risk of malnutrition and hunger by 2050 if we do not adapt to the effects of climate change now.
Dr. Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN, presented the new strategy to partners and stakeholders: “The most vulnerable, who tend to be ignored by food systems, are the ones most affected by the shocks such as conflict, COVID and the climate crisis. Protecting them is at the core of our new strategy. And GAIN will be working extra hard to reach these populations”.
GAIN’s work in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and Pakistan will focus on working closely with governments, businesses, civil society and partners on fortification of everyday foods such as rice, wheat and cooking oil with vitamins and minerals; supporting SMEs with expertise, technology and finance; upgrading informal food markets; providing access to nutritious food for the workforce within the food systems; and engaging with nature to produce more climate-resilient nutritious food crops.
Over the next five years, GAIN will also radically scale up the impact of its work by designing programmes to amplify the impact through government policy, markets, partnerships with business and civil society, and via knowledge sharing.
Theodore Sam Kaiser
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