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On World Food Day, WFP Says Investment In Nutrition Is Key To Unlocking A Better Future

BAGHDAD – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is marking World Food Day on 16 October by highlighting the power of nutrition to transform individuals, societies and economies, and the need to make it central to all development efforts. 

“Undernourished girls and boys face barriers in health, in school performance and later, in the workplace, which limit their human potential and their capacity to contribute to the societies in which they live,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. 

“Prioritising nutrition today is an investment in our collective global future. The investment must involve food, agriculture, health and education systems,” she said.

Today some 842 million people - more than one in eight people in the world – suffer from chronic hunger. Yet even more – around two billion people - lack the vitamins and minerals needed to live healthy lives. 

If the global community invested US$1.2 billion per year for five years on reducing micronutrient deficiencies, the benefits in better health, fewer child deaths and increased future earnings would generate gains worth US$15.3 billion.

“Here in Iraq, WFP is implementing a nutrition programme in cooperation with the Ministry of Health that aims at providing nutritional support to children under two and malnourished children under 5 as part of a health services package through the local Primary Healthcare Centres in six districts of the most vulnerable districts of Iraq,” said WFP Iraq Representative and Country Director Jane Pearce.

“The first 1,000 days of a child’s life – from pregnancy through 2 years – are a critical ‘window of opportunity’ and intervening this early protects children from irreversible mental and physical damage in the future that could result to economic and development losses to any country.”

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.” Providing food assistance to 97 million people worldwide, here are some of the ways WFP focuses on nutrition:

•    Rapidly increasing the number of children and new mothers who receive new nutritionally enhanced food products.
•    Focusing on the crucial 1,000 day window - from the womb to two years of age – where getting sufficient nutrients and calories is crucial for full growth. 
•    Stepping up assistance through cash and vouchers when food is available in markets, so consumers can buy more fresh and varied local foods.
•    Emphasising dietary diversity and fresh foods in its school feeding programmes, by working with local communities and farmers.
•    Working with private partners and research institutes to assess the nutritional impact of providing fortified rice in school meals
•    Supporting the creation of a solid evidence base to guide countries in their nutrition policies and strategies, such as the recent Cost of Hunger in Africa study, led by the African Union.

To know more about WFP’s work in Iraq, visit our dedicated country page:

“Raising awareness is essential in order to assist the Government of Iraq in reducing under-nutrition,” said Pearce. “Investing in the nutritional needs and achieving food and nutrition security in Iraq is crucial to attaining all the Millennium Development Goals. Nutrition programmes could lead to political, economic and social gains for the country in the long run”.

WFP celebrates World Food Day with its sister UN food agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).  
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.

For more information please contact 
Bilan Osman Jama, WFP/Iraq, Tel. +962 6 515 4009 ext. 2470
Abeer Etefa, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2600
Reem Nada, WFP/Cairo, Tel. +202 2528 1730 ext. 2610