New Report Outlines Challenges, Recommendations to Track Global Nutrition Investments

January 11, 2017

Washington, D.C. – January 11, 2017 – Results for Development (R4D) has released a new policy brief that outlines the challenges to accurately and efficiently track aid for nutrition, and provides recommendations to change this.

Globally, undernutrition is a pervasive problem. Currently, 156 million children are stunted, meaning they suffer from chronic undernutrition and impaired linear growth. In contrast, good nutrition builds human capital and economic prosperity, and improves health outcomes. And as global leaders call for greater investments in nutrition, it becomes increasingly important to understand how much Official Development Assistance (ODA) is flowing to nutrition efforts.

R4D experts found two major challenges in tracking aid for nutrition, which is currently tracked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): 1) The tracking code for nutrition (the basic nutrition code), which is used to track nutrition-specific investments within Official Development Assistance, is not well-aligned with widely accepted definitions of nutrition-specific interventions; and (2) There is currently no systematic way to track nutrition-sensitive investments in WASH, agriculture, education, and other sectors, which are critical to addressing the underlying causes of undernutrition.

To overcome these challenges, R4D recommends adjusting the definition of the basic nutrition code so that it focuses on high-impact nutrition investments and omits interventions such as school feeding programs — which have been shown to incentivize school attendance and reduce absenteeism, but don’t significantly impact nutrition outcomes particularly among target groups — and household food security initiatives — which tend to be more focused on agriculture and poverty reduction that are not nutrition-specific. The current inclusion of school feeding and household food security in the current basic nutrition code are leading to an overestimation of nutrition-specific funding. And because nutrition requires a multi-sectoral approach, R4D also recommends creating a new nutrition policy marker to track nutrition investments across all sectors.

“As official development assistance for nutrition grows to meet global targets, it will be increasingly important to be able to monitor and track these resources in a transparent, timely and replicable manner,” said Mary D’Alimonte, program officer at R4D. “We hope these changes will make it easier for the global nutrition community to hold stakeholders accountable to their commitments, while giving credit to donors for their multi-sectoral investments in nutrition that currently are not captured.”

This policy brief builds on the Global Investment Framework for Nutrition, produced by R4D, the World Bank and 1,000 Days, that estimates it will cost an additional $70 billion per year to scale up a core package of nutrition-specific interventions in order to achieve the World Health Assembly targets for nutrition by 2025.

Click to download the full policy brief.

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