The World Food Programme (WFP) has an advantage when it comes to addressing malnutrition thanks to its deep field presence in most of the world's food insecure regions. With food distribution structures in place in over 70 countries, WFP can tailor its responses to meet specific nutritional needs.

The need could be for a diet with more calories, more micronutrients in general or more of a specific vitamin or mineral.

Under an agreement with UNICEF, WFP has the mandate to address moderate malnutrition (the correct technical term is 'moderate acute malnutrition'). UNICEF focuses on severe malnutrition (or 'severe acute malnutrition'). WFP does its part by providing food through programmes which supplement the food households already have with nutritious products such as fortified blended foods or ready-to-use foods.

By treating moderate malnutrition, WFP tries to prevent children from slipping into severe malnutrition. In many emergency settings, for every child suffering from severe acute malnutrition, there are eight or ten suffering from moderate malnutrition.

Developing Micronutrient Powders

WFP has a partnership with Dutch company DSM which, among other things, aims to develop cost-effective micronutrient products that will improve our general food basket and help ensure that the nutritional needs of all WFP beneficiaries are met.

Here are three reports on the pilot projects that WFP and DSM are conducting on the use of micronutrient powders in different contexts.

Greater Quality And Diversity

In recent years, new ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) for severely malnourished children have been developed. The progress in foods for severe malnutrition has worked as a catalyst for the development of special foods for other forms of malnutrition.

In this context, WFP has been improving the quality and diversity of the food products it uses. WFP is working with partners in the private sector, universities, United Nations and non-governmental organisation's to develop and assess the effectiveness of innovative products. Treating micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) deficiencies is an area of emphasis.

The WFP nutrition toolbox already includes fortified staples, fortified condiments and fortified blended foods. Among the fortified blended foods is corn soya blend (CSB), which WFP has used for decades. WFP is working on ways of improving the composition of these foods to better meet the nutritional needs of specific groups (young children, pregnant and lactating women, the chronically ill).

New Strategies

The WFP toolbox also includes new strategies such as home fortification with multi-micronutrient powder (MNP, also known as ‘sprinkles’). Home fortification means that beneficiaries themselves sprinkle the powder onto food after they have cooked it. It is a viable option when households already have some food but the food they have lacks important micronutrients.

Other new strategies include ready-to-use supplementary foods (RUSFs), for treating children with moderate acute malnutrition, and complementary food supplements, to complement the diet of young children (6-24 mo) with the highest nutritional needs. Learn more