New fund targets billion dollars for children’s nutrition

16 April 2015 – The Power of Nutrition, a new independent fund launched today, will help millions of children reach their full potential. Backed by leading organisations from private philanthropy and international development, the partnership aims to unlock one billion dollars to tackle child undernutrition in some of the world’s poorest countries. 

The Power of Nutrition will save lives and help millions of children escape from the effects of malnutrition. It will help countries build healthy and prosperous communities. It launches with arrangements in place to unlock the first $200 million from high profile backers such as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation, the UK’s Department for International Development, Unicef, and the World Bank Group. It opens to new private and public investors today.

Unlocking children’s potential

Without the right nutrients, health services and care within the first 1,000 days of life, a child’s brain and body fail to develop properly. Unlike hunger, these effects are largely invisible and essentially irreversible. Undernutrition is the underlying cause of 45 per cent of all under five mortality – or nearly three million deaths every year. Undernutrition leaves nearly four in ten children in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with underdeveloped brains and bodies. As a result, these children have lower IQs and are more likely to drop out of school. As adults, they are a third less likely to escape poverty.

The problem does not stop there. As undernourished girls grow into undernourished mothers, who give birth to undernourished children. This creates a vicious cycle that holds back the growth of future generations.

Money raised by the Power of Nutrition will finance large-scale, high-impact nutrition programmes to help break this cycle. Evidence shows that with the right nutrients and care early on in life, a child’s brain and body are able to develop to their full potential, improving their health, education and future livelihoods. It is an investment in children, families and communities that lasts and lasts.

Multiplying funds for nutrition 

For the first time, a combination of private and public finances will support country-led programmes that target child undernutrition at scale. The Power of Nutrition will act as a catalyst to multiply the financial resources going into this area, through a combination of grants, government funding and International Development Association (IDA) financing.

The fund has developed an innovative matching offer that guarantees that every dollar in private funding is multiplied up to six times with new financing secured from other funders. Governments seeking financial support for their national nutrition programmes will also be able to multiply their resources through the fund.

The Power of Nutrition opens to new private and public investors today. It launches with arrangements in place to unlock the first $200m of financing. 

Contributions include $55m from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, up to £32m ($47m) from the UK Department of International Development, and up to Swiss Francs 25m ($26m) from the UBS Optimus Foundation. 

These resources will be channelled through a new World Bank Group (WBG) trust fund for nutrition and through a Unicef matched-funding mechanism. The new WBG trust fund of at least $55m will leverage at least another $100m from the IDA, the WBG’s fund for the poorest. The new agreement with Unicef provides an opportunity for donors to fund Unicef through a matched-funding mechanism dedicated to ending child undernutrition. 

Learn more at the powerofnutrition.org. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #PowerofNutrition

Partner quotes

“Good nutrition is an essential part of a healthy life. Yet every day, millions of children die, are sick, or are disadvantaged because they are not receiving the right nutrition and care at the right time. Investors in The Power of Nutrition can change that, so good nutrition becomes the new normal,” said Michael Anderson, Chief Executive Officer at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. 

“We are very proud to be a founding partner of The Power of Nutrition. This groundbreaking new fund will help many more children reach their full potential by ensuring they get the right nutrients early in life. It's an investment in children, families and communities that will last," said Phyllis Costanza, Chief Executive Officer at the UBS Optimus Foundation.

“We believe that undernutrition is one of the world’s most serious but least addressed public health challenges” said Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, World Bank.  “Children who escape undernutrition are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults. Countries in Africa and Asia are losing up to 11% of their GDP to undernutrition. We want children and countries to reach their full potential. This is why we are tracking stunting as a predictor of development and see initiatives like The Power of Nutrition as key to achieving our goal of ending extreme poverty.”

“Five years ago, few outside the health community knew much about stunting. Today, there is growing recognition of the impact undernutrition has on children’s lives and thus the future of the societies in which they live,” said Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake and Chair of the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Working Group. “The Power of Nutrition will help fuel the growing global movement to give more children the healthy start they need.”

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Notes for editors:

For further information please contact the Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk

About The Power of Nutrition

The Power of Nutrition is an independent charity registered in the United Kingdom. It accepts funds from a mix of private and public investors, and works closely with carefully selected partners – including the World Bank Group and Unicef – to support some of the worst affected countries deliver large-scale, high impact nutrition programmes. More information at powerofnutrition.org 

About the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) is an independent philanthropic organisation, headquartered in London with offices in Nairobi and New Delhi. It works to transform the lives of poor and vulnerable children in developing countries. Areas of work include children and mothers’ health and nutrition, children’s education and welfare, and smart ways to slowdown and stop climate change. CIFF places significant emphasis on quality data and evidence to measure and evaluate progress with partners to achieve large scale and sustainable impact. More information at ciff.org. Follow us on Twitter, @CIFFchild

About the UBS Optimus Foundation

The UBS Optimus Foundation is the philanthropic offering for clients of UBS, the largest global wealth management firm. UBS Optimus Foundation is dedicated to helping UBS clients fund innovative and high-impact programs that ensure that some of the most marginalised children around the world are safe, healthy, educated and ready for their future. More information at ubs.com.

About the UK’s Department for International Development

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women, and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit. More information at DFID 

About the World Bank Group

The World Bank Group’s goals are to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of citizens in every country, by 2030.  The Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries. IDA provides loans and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions, including those that address undernutrition. More information at worldbank.org.

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk