Life-saving food
and nutrition

A good start in life for every child

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Too many children don’t have the food they need

Every minute of every day, more than 5 children die as a result of malnutrition, according to estimates. And millions more live with physical disabilities and learning difficulties – the lifetime effects of not having the food they need to live and grow.

The start of a child’s life is a critical time. Without enough of the nutrients they need at this vital time, children’s bodies and brains don’t develop the way they should. They’re less able to grow, learn and play an active role in their communities. They’re also less resilient in the face of disease, disasters, and other global crises.

Emergency food saves lives

Unicef provides 80% of the world’s life-saving emergency food, for children suffering from the most severe malnutrition. This nutritious, high-energy peanut paste literally saves lives.

A health worker treats eight-month-old Ali in a Unicef-supported heath centre. Ali is suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Photo: Unicef/2016/Al-Issa

A health worker treats eight-month-old Ali in a Unicef-supported heath centre in Aleppo, Syria. Ali is suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Unicef provides 80% of the world’s life-saving emergency food, for children like Ali.
Photo: Unicef/Al-Issa

A donation from you can help provide life-saving food for more children

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GIVING A CHILD THE BEST START IN LIFE

Icon, graphic: mother and child, happy healthy start, heart
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The first 1,000 days are the most critical in a child’s life.

Without enough of the nutrients they need, their bodies and brains don’t develop the way they should – a condition known as stunting, which currently affects nearly a quarter of children under five.

How we help prevent malnutrition

Our specialist teams right around the world help families and communities keep their children healthy and well-nourished for the long term. Unicef staff support families through education, special supplements, breastfeeding support – and make sure mums have enough of the right things to eat too.

Meet Yassa

Yassa is a community health volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. She joined the local health care team after her own daughter, Watta, became malnourished. With support from Unicef, started learning about the importance of a varied and nutritious diet.

Today, Yassa runs cooking demonstrations for other mothers, where she passes on her knowledge of the right kind of nutrition for children, as well as basic hygiene and care.

Yassa carries out her cooking demonstration, showing other mothers how to cook healthy and nutritious food for their children Unicef/Liberia/2017/Maule-Ffinch

Yassa during one of her cooking demonstrations, showing other mothers how to cook healthy and nutritious food for their children.
Photo: Unicef/2017/Maule-ffinch

Yassa, with her daughter strapped to her back, carries out a cooking demonstration for other mothers in Liberia to teach them about the importance of nutrition. Unicef 2017 Maule-Ffinch
Long ago, we didn't know what was best for our children, but now I do and I'll tell everyone and they'll pass it on too.

If we keep doing this then every baby's mother will know what's best, and then all the children in Liberia will grow up strong and clever.

Yassa, community health worker, Liberia

Hunger or malnutrition?

What Yassa teaches mums is that malnutrition is not the same as hunger. Children might be getting enough food to sustain them and make them feel full, but without the right nutrients in that food, they won’t be able to grow and reach their full potential.

If a child receives the right nutrition and care at the start of their lives, they’ll grow up healthy and strong – and there’s no limit to what they can become.

Globally, every pound spent fighting child malnutrition delivers £16 worth of social, economic and environmental benefits in the future.

Did you know that every £1 spent fighting child malnutrition delivers £16 worth of social, economic and environmental benefits? Watch this video to find out how.

Make a donation

A regular gift from you can help even more mums and babies get the nutrition they need when it matters most. Just £16 a month can provide essential iron and folic acid for 9 expectant mums.

Sorry, we can only process donations of £1 and above due to admin costs.