UNICEF: Stunting in children can be defeated

Globally one in four of all children under five is stunted

15 APRIL 2013 | DUBLIN – A new UNICEF report offers evidence that real progress is being made in the fight against stunted growth – the hidden face of poverty for 165 million children under the age of five. The report shows that accelerated progress is both possible and necessary.

Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress confirms that a key to success against stunting is focusing attention on pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. Stunting in a child is not only about being too short for his or her age. It can also mean suffering from stunted development of the brain and cognitive capacity.

“Stunting can kill opportunities in life for a child and kill opportunities for development of a nation,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Our evidence of the progress that is being achieved shows that now is the time to accelerate it.”

One in four of all under-five children globally is stunted because of chronic undernutrition in crucial periods of growth. An estimated 80 per cent of the world’s stunted children live in just 14 countries.

The UNICEF report highlights successes in scaling up nutrition and improving policies, programmes and behaviour change in 11 countries: Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Viet Nam.

The release of this report will add to the continued push on nutrition and child survival during key moments in 2013, such as the Dublin Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice from 15-16 April, the International Conference Against Child Undernutrition being organized by UNICEF in Paris from 14-15 May, the Hunger Summit to be hosted by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and David Cameron on 8 June in London, The G8 in Northern Ireland from 17-18 June and a number of other events with a major focus on nutrition.