28 May 2014: According to the World Food Programme* (WFP), there are 842 million undernourished people in the world today and malnutrition is the biggest risk to health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. That means 1 in 8 people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life.
The good news is that hunger and malnutrition can be stopped. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone and no scientific breakthroughs are needed. Today’s knowledge, tools and policies, combined with political will, can solve the problem.
As we pose to reflect this World Hunger Day*, my colleagues in Plan’s Food Assistance and Nutrition Unit (FANU) are driven by the Zero Hunger Challenge* and awake to the fact that “eliminating hunger is a moral imperative that the world cannot afford to ignore and that it’s not just the right thing to do, but that it is also the smart thing to do”, as stated by Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director.
Plan International has made significant contributions on the frontline, helping thousands of individuals and families tackle hunger in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe since 2005.
During 2011 and 2012 food emergencies in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region Plan supported children and communities with food resources.
Right now Plan is providing food assistance and nutrition interventions across all Plan regions, including countries such as the Philippines, South Sudan, Laos, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mali, Niger, India and Ethiopia.
In South Sudan, 5 months of fighting has seriously undermined food security. Aid agencies are warning of risks of a possible famine in 2014 if urgent supplies do not get through.
We set up Plan’s Food Assistance and Nutrition Unit almost 1 year ago to improve the quality, reliability and profile of our food assistance portfolio. The unit brings together expertise on food distributions, nutrition and cash programming. The team, supported by specialist consultants, has been able to provide specialist support to the countries that need it while building Plan’s profile with the UN and donors.
FANU strengthens Plan’s ability to manage malnutrition and food crisis prior to disaster, in emergency response and during recovery phase.
What does this mean in practice? Key activities FANU works on include cash and vouchers programming, therapeutic and supplementary feeding, general food distributions, food for assets and school feeding. All different ways of providing food assistance.
A busy year
The FANU team has had a busy year supporting Plan’s programmes across the globe, including food assistance projects in Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Mali. With team members being based in India, Kenya, USA and UK, the first face-to-face team meeting occurred when all were deployed for the Typhoon Haiyan response.
As we work with others as members of the global Food Security Cluster and also at the global Nutrition Cluster, Plan is today well placed to address the causes, consequences and dynamics of food crisis and malnutrition.
Together we are saving lives and building resilience amongst children and communities.
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