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European Commission


Brussels, 7 June 2013

EU action on nutrition in development cooperation

Country Cooperation Frameworks

At the Nutrition for Growth, Beating Hunger through Business and Science Event in London on 8 June, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will also launch three new Country Cooperation Frameworks: in Benin, Malawi and Nigeria. These frameworks are set up on a country by country basis with specific objectives and target dates to ensure that the commitments on nutrition come to fruition by 2022.

Six Country Cooperation Frameworks were launched in 2012: in Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Mozambique. The vast majority of Country Frameworks address the issue of land governance, as well as that of Women's empowerment. This reflects the EU's pledge to make sure that the New Alliance benefits smallholder famers, particularly women and the most vulnerable and helps to reduce malnutrition.

Development work on Nutrition

Through its development cooperation, the EU has played a leading role in tackling hunger for many years and is the world's largest donor in supporting global food and nutrition security and sustainable agricultural development. The EU believes that addressing all aspects related to hunger and under-nutrition must be one of the priorities of its development policy and seeks to support access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, and at all times.

In 2008, the EU set up a €1 billion Food Facility which benefitted 150 million people across the world. Around 80 projects (out of 232) specifically addressed nutrition and safety net measures.

Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs is also a member of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement which aims to create innovative solutions to under-nutrition. The European Commission invests at least €1 billion in agriculture and food security a year.

Facts and figures

  • According to the World Health Organisation roughly 165 million children aged under 5 years old are suffering from stunting (stunting = chronic under-nutrition/low height for age).

  • Globally 3 million children under the age of five die every year as a result of under-nutrition.

  • Around 36 countries are home to 90% of the world's children who suffer from stunting, or chronic under-nutrition. In those poor countries, one in three children is stunted and in some cases it is as high as one in two.

  • Children are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be stunted if living in rural areas, in the poorest quintiles and where women’s status/education is lowest.

  • On a global scale, it has been estimated that the cost of under-nutrition represents up to 10% of individuals' lifetime earnings and between 2% to 8% of a nation's GDP. But because chronic under- nutrition is not visible to the naked eye, the problem is often poorly/not recognised and understood (‘hidden hunger’), it becomes the norm and everyone accepts it.

The Communication “Enhancing Maternal and Children Nutrition in external assistance: an EU policy framework”

The Commission adopted this Communication on the 12th March 2013. It has two aims: to reduce the number of under-fives that are stunted and to reduce the number of under-fives that suffer from wasting (low weight for height).

The policy outlines three strategic priorities. Firstly: a stronger mobilisation and political commitment for nutrition at country and international level (through the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement). Secondly: scaling up nutrition interventions. Thirdly: the EU will invest in applied research, support information systems and provide technical expertise for implementation of support.

The Commission is also drafting an Action Plan on nutrition which outlines in detail how the Commission plans to reach its commitment of reducing stunting in children under five by at least 10% (7 million children) of the World Health Assembly goal by 2025. The Action Plan will address how the three strategic objectives are to be attained, as well as detailing the accountability framework, looking at resource tracking and measurement of impact. The Action Plan is expected to be ready by the first half of 2014.

Examples of EU work on nutrition

In Peru, the EU supports nutrition governance to boost policy implementation:

In 2008, Peru had one of the highest rates of under-nutrition in Latin America: as many as 1 in 3 Peruvian children were stunted, in rural areas even more. These figures are very high considering that Peru was among the fastest growing economies in the region. In response to this situation, the government of Peru adopted a series of measures such as CRECER (the poverty alleviation strategy in 2007 that featured the fight against malnutrition as the core set of priorities) - this marked a turning point in Peru’s major progress on reducing maternal and child malnutrition.

Given the clear national commitment to fighting under-nutrition and positive results achieved by Peru, in 2009 the EU contributed over €60 million for the implementation of the Peruvian Nutritional Programme (amounting to 22% of the national budget) thereby supporting sustained commitment.

In part, through the EU’s support, Peru has made strides in reducing under-nutrition. For example, the most in need are targeted by focusing in the three poorest regions of Peru. In those areas, the EU contributes to the reduction of chronic under-nutrition through improved service delivery to the most vulnerable (including child vaccinations, mineral and vitamin supplementation of children and pregnant women) and by acting early and focusing efforts on the period of growth that is most vulnerable to under-nutrition (the first 1,000 days of life).

So far, the prevalence of child under-nutrition among children less than three years old has reduced by 10%: from 28.5% in 2007 to 18.6% in mid-2012

EU-UNICEF joint regional action for improving nutrition security in Africa:

This support is part of the EU-UNICEF joint action for improving nutrition security in Africa, targeting four countries; namely, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali and Uganda; with a total EU contribution of €14.95 million.

In Ethiopia, about half a million children, 100,000 adolescent girls and 100,000 pregnant and lactating mothers in 20 targeted areas of Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples (SNNP) regions will benefit from this project.

Among the various programmes supported in this project, this EU grant will strengthen the coordination of the existing national nutrition programme at federal level and support the existing Community Based Nutrition (CBN) programme with additional activities.

The EU grant will put a particular focus on stunting reduction programmes in the 20 targeted areas. Nutrition-specific interventions include the promotion of the use of available foods and resources, as well as breastfeeding -, vitamin and mineral supplements, appropriate complementary foods and the fortification of staple foods.

For more information:

IP/13/516 Making malnutrition history - EU announces €3.5 billion for nutrition

EU’s recent communication on nutrition: “Enhancing Maternal and Children Nutrition in external assistance: an EU policy framework”

Website of DG Development and Cooperation- EuropeAid:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

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