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DSM And WFP Team Up To Fight Child Undernutrition In Swaziland

Royal DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma visits orphans and vulnerable children at a community care centre in Swaziland. Copyright: Simon Recker

When Feike Sijbesma, CEO of Netherlands-based global sciences company Royal DSM, travelled around Swaziland, he was struck by the number of children in the community centres he visited who showed the clearest of all signs of chronic malnutrition - stunting.

As head of DSM,  world-renowned for its expertise in nutritional sciences, Sijbesma knew he was looking at a serious problem. Stunting - being too short for one's age - affects three in 10 children in Swaziland. Stunting is not only irreversible, it has permanent effects on physical growth and cognitive development. The only solution for stunting is prevention -- ensuring that pregnant women and infants receive good nutrition in the crucial 1,000 days between conception and second birthday.

Out of Sijbesma’s visit to Swaziland in July 2013 has come an important project to address stunting on a national scale. Royal DSM, a WFP corporate partner and invaluable ally in the fight against global malnutrition, has contributed US$150,000 to a new initiative aimed at building the policy and technical capacity of the Government of Swaziland to prevent child undernutrition.

“During my visit to the community centres and health clinics where WFP works, I saw extreme vulnerability and the impact of an inadequate diet,” said Sijbesma. “But we know that we can do something about it. Stunting can be prevented and that is the goal of our collaboration.”

Under the initiative, WFP and its government partners will analyze the gaps in policy and programmes for child nutrition and identify measures that can be taken to address them. The goal is to achieve adequate nutrition for all Swazi children in their first 1,000 days -- so they can enjoy life-long good health and mental development.

“I believe it is our responsibility to support what WFP does in order to ensure that every mother is able to provide her children with the right food for life," said Sijbesma. "I'm proud that we at DSM can play our part in the work being done to improve so many lives around the world.”

By lending its expertise as a global sciences company, Royal DSM is helping WFP to improve the nutritional value of the food it provides to undernourished women and children. Learn more about the partnership between Royal DSM and WFP here.