Over half a billion dollars pledged to tackle severe wasting since July in unprecedented international response to deepening child malnutrition crisis

NEW YORK, Sept. 21, 2022 Governments, philanthropists and private donors have pledged approximately $577 million since July in response to the deepening child malnutrition crisis — with at least 60 percent of that amount going directly to support UNICEF’s work.

Approximately $280 million of the more than half a billion funds raised was pledged today The Child Malnutrition Crisis: Pledges to Save Lives – a high-level event co-hosted by UNICEF, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and the Government of Senegal at UNICEF Headquarters in New York.

The governments of Canada, Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; and the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the Eleanor Crook Foundation, the Greta Thunberg Foundation, Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and King Philanthropies came together at the high-profile event during the 77thth annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to address the growing food crisis.

The pledges came as climate-related drought, conflict and rising food prices continue to spike emergencies of severe wasting among young children worldwide. In 15 hardest-hit countries, including the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, a child is pushed into severe malnutrition every minute, according to a recent analysis by UNICEF.

“An escalating malnutrition crisis is pushing millions of children to the brink of starvation – and if we don’t do more, this crisis will become a disaster,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “UNICEF is very grateful for the pledges we have received, but we need more unreserved funding to reach children before it’s too late. We cannot stand by and let children die—not when we know how to prevent, recognize, and treat severe wasting.”

Today’s pledges build on pledges made in July, when USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced an unprecedented $200 million donation to UNICEF to help identify and treat severe wasting in children. At the time, an additional $50 million was pledged by private philanthropists, including philanthropist and Chair of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) Sir Chris Hohn, the Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF), the CRI Foundation and the ELMA Relief Foundation to address the malnutrition crisis.

“The majority of children affected by severe malnutrition – almost two-thirds of the children requiring treatment – live in places where there are currently no crises, in places that do not normally receive humanitarian aid.” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power. “We are working to change that, to recognize that treating severe malnutrition is not only a humanitarian necessity, but also a developmental requirement in some places.”

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Severe wasting – which leaves children dangerously thin – is the most visible and deadliest form of malnutrition. A weakened immune system increases the risk of death in children under the age of 5 by up to 11 times compared to well-nourished children.

In response, UNICEF has stepped up its efforts in 15 countries hardest hit by the malnutrition crisis. Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen are included in an Acceleration Plan that earmarks $1.2 billion for deterrence an increase in child deaths; and reducing the long-term harm of severe wasting.

Pledges to UNICEF will help provide services for the early prevention, detection and treatment of child wasting and expand access to life-saving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) and other essential nutritional items needed in times of crisis.

During today’s event, UNICEF and partners also launched an expansion of the Child Nutrition Fund, a long-term multi-partner funding mechanism to support the early prevention, detection and treatment of child wasting. By working with governments to consolidate and strategically allocate funding, the Child Nutrition Fund aims to accelerate global progress and end the cycle of severe child wasting.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented child malnutrition crisis. It is unacceptable that many millions of children suffer from severe malnutrition in their first years of life.” said Co-founder and Chairman of the CIFF Chris Hon. “We already know many of the solutions to prevent, identify and treat child wasting, but we need to do more to ensure these solutions scale. This requires sustainable, long-term and coordinated funding. The early success of the Child Nutrition Fund is incredibly encouraging, and its growth into the largest centralized effort to combat child wasting on a large scale is just what is needed. I am pleased to announce that the CIFF intends to allocate an additional $40 million to address child wasting.”

“Faced with global challenges, including the impact of COVID-19, we should always keep acute malnutrition and stunting as priorities on the multilateral agenda.” said Council of Ministers at Senegal’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Diamane Diome. “By working with national and international stakeholders such as USAID, UNICEF, the World Food Program and other multilateral and bilateral partners, Senegal has made great strides in this regard. This shows that if we work together and with a sense of urgency, based on our shared values, we can meet the challenge of acute child malnutrition and stunting. Senegal strives to pass on the experiences and lessons it has learned. Therefore, I am pleased to join USAID and UNICEF in this timely meeting.”

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Canada’s Minister for International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency, Harjit S. Sajjan, said:
“Acute malnutrition can be prevented and its effects mitigated if it is recognized and treated early. Together we can stop this – but we must act now. Working with allies like USAID and partners like UNICEF, the World Food Program and Nutrition International, Canada remains part of the solution.”

Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney TD said:
“The world stands at a crossroads where climate change, ongoing conflicts in many regions, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine are converging to deepen and accelerate global food and nutritional insecurity. We must do more together – and urgently. Ireland was pleased to announce today a commitment of €50 million over three years to accelerate the global response to prevent, identify and treat child wasting. This comes on top of Ireland’s pledge made by Ireland at the Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021 of €800 million over five years. We look forward to working closely with USAID, UNICEF and other global partners on this important work in the months and years to come.”

Liesje Schreinemacher, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said:
“To alleviate the current food and nutrition crisis, we all need to step up our efforts. For this reason, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is investing in a new partnership with UNICEF to focus on preventing malnutrition among children, women and youth in sub-Saharan Africa.”

CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Board Member Mark Suzman said:
“I am encouraged by the unified response to today’s crisis, but responding to this catastrophe is not enough for us. We must also do everything possible to prevent the next one with long-term, sustainable investments. Today’s foundation pledge of $20 million to the UNICEF Child Nutrition Fund doubles our previous commitment and will broaden the fund’s focus on life-saving nutrition products that prevent wasting for the most vulnerable. Together we can create a future where every child can reach their full potential.”

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The CEO of the Eleanor Crook Foundation, William Moore said:
“The Eleanor Crook Foundation is proud to be part of this incredible coalition of donors, in addition to committing to address the deepening crisis of child wasting. With cost-effective and life-saving treatments such as ready-to-use therapeutic food that no child should suffer or die from malnutrition. There is no silver bullet in life, but when it comes to keeping malnourished children alive, RUTF is as close as you can get. I applaud all donors who have lent a helping hand at this moment of global crisis and invite others to join the table. This is progress, but it is not the finish line and millions more children need our help.”

Climate and environmental activist Greta Thunberg said:
“Millions of children are currently being affected by the floods in Pakistan and the drought in Somalia, the latest signs of an accelerating climate crisis. The people of these countries have contributed next to nothing to the crisis, but they are among the hardest hit. We must all do what we can to support emergency relief on the ground and urge our governments to stop ignoring the climate crisis and prevent further suffering.”

The Director of Humanitarian Services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sharon Eubank, said:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pleased to extend our long-standing partnership with UNICEF by pledged $5 million in support of the No Time Wasting Malnutrition campaign. These funds come in small increments from hard-working families and from widows on limited incomes and from young children themselves. It was given by Latter-day Saints to enable mothers to have healthier pregnancies and births and to provide therapeutic nutrition and care for their children who may be at risk can offer micronutrients.”

King Philanthropies President and CEO Kim Starkey said:
“At King Philanthropies, we use grants and impact investing to catalyze solutions at the intersection of climate change and extreme poverty. Malnutrition sits squarely and persistently at this intersection. Those most affected by climate change are those living in extreme poverty, who also suffer most from malnutrition. These people have contributed the least to climate change. But it seriously threatens their agricultural livelihoods, food security and the nutritional status of their families. Today, King Philanthropies enthusiastically says yes to this initiative to end severe malnutrition and wasting.”

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