By Nadra Franklin, Managing Director of FHI Solutions
Today, a child dies of malnutrition every 11 seconds. Technology and solutions to end malnutrition exist, yet, unlike tech industries in Silicon Valley, we are not investing enough in accelerating solutions to one of the world’s most fundamental challenges.
FHI Solutions is a member of the FHI 360 family. Together, we strive for a world where everyone reaches their potential so that all people, communities, and societies thrive. For this to happen, everyone, everywhere must access healthy diets and essential nutrition and health services. Food, health, water and sanitation, education and social protection systems all play a role.
Malnutrition is the leading cause of under five deaths worldwide, accounting for 45% of all under five mortalities. Good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life, from conception to age two, has been correlated with increases in IQ, educational attainment, and earning potential. As such, good nutrition undercuts the world’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Today, only 1% of development assistance goes to nutrition, while domestic investment is declining. Given the nutrition challenge and funding climate, our goal is two-fold. We want to find solutions for malnutrition and test them. And we want to scale these solutions by connecting domains and sectors that are not yet optimally working together. To advance our mission, FHI Solutions houses three initiatives, having implemented projects in thirty countries.
Through, Alive & Thrive (A&T), we are demonstrating that rapid improvements in infant, young child, maternal and adolescent nutrition are possible across diverse contexts. Today, A&T behaviour change programmes are being successfully adopted in eight countries and regional efforts are underway to replicate program and policy approaches in Southeast Asia and West Africa. In Bangladesh, in A&T intervention areas, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months increased from 49% to 86%, and in Vietnam, tripled.
Globally, dietary diversity is lacking, impeding the scale up of impactful programs and policies. Intake is a Center for Dietary Assessment, which increase the availability, quality, reliability, comparability and use of dietary data and metrics in eight countries. By working with national governments to build expertise and capacity, Intake is advancing evidence-based policies.
At 1,000 Days, advocacy and communications are driving nutrition investments in the United States and globally. Improving nutrition during the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday is one of the best investments in global development. Between 2009 and 2019, 1,000 Days supported the growth of U.S. Government funding for global malnutrition from $55 to $150 million and, in 2021, advocated to raise ambition at Tokyo’s Nutrition for Growth Summit.
Across this portfolio, we use data to learn what works, share knowledge, and adapt to new contexts. Our aim is to scale sustainable solutions across sectors, providing novel approaches for nutrition, health, food systems, climate, and other sectors. We work across systems for impact, while at the same time, our initiatives are designed to integrate with other sectors.
To learn more, please visit www.FHIsolutions.org.