Lack of aid hampers fight to wipe out hunger

The battle to eradicate world hunger by 2015 is likely to fail if aid for basic nutrition remains at only 0.4 per cent of total official development assistance (ODA), a report has said

Findings from the research group Development Initiatives (DI) show that while nutrition aid is rising, it remains far below the level needed to wipe out hunger, with countries in South and Central Asia the worst affected by under-nourishment.

The World Bank estimated in 2010 that an increase of $10.3bn in annual resources would eradicate under-nutrition. Since then, basic ODA for nutrition has increased by only $139m, or about 1.4 per cent of the identified need, DI said.

“Malnutrition is the underlying cause of 35 per cent of all deaths among children under five,” the report said. “Under-nourished children are also more likely to be vulnerable to illnesses and earn about 10 per cent less as adults if they survive.”

Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is among the millennium development goals outlined by the UN in 2000. The eight goals are meant to be achieved by 2015. According to DI, funding for nutrition is targeted at the 36 countries where 90 per cent of low-weight children live.

But distribution of aid does not reflect need. South Asia received 28 per cent of all ODA for basic nutrition from 2009 to 2011, despite representing 56 per cent of the global gap in nutrition funding. India, home to over a third of the global population of low-weight children, receives comparably low levels of nutrition aid. Sub-Saharan African countries, which house around 48.3 million stunted children, received about 54 per cent of basic nutrition aid disbursements.

“Basic nutrition ODA funding is still small when compared with emergency and development food aid,” the report said. “Appropriate levels of financing for basic nutrition… are a key component of any poverty eradication strategy.”