FY2018 Funding Recommendation:  
$160 million


Funding History


       House/Senate FY2017 Request  

       InterAction's FY2018 Recommendation

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 Key Facts

Investments in nutrition are the most cost-effective way to ensure that children everywhere have a chance to survive and thrive.  Good nutrition during the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child's second birthday builds the foundation for human health and development and economic growth for entire generations.

Improving nutrition during the 1,000 day window can reduce the loss of 11 percent of GDP caused every year by malnutrition in Africa and Asia. Nutrition is one of the most effectual aid buys, with every $1 invested resulting in $16 in economic returns through decreased health care costs and increased human productivity. A healthy, productive citizenry contributes to a stable society and serves as a reliable trading partner and consumer base for U.S. goods and services. Support for these programs is not just a reflection of American moral character, but it is vital to our economic and strategic interests.

Early nutrition supports healthy growth and immune systems, and aids a child’s ability to learn in school and earn a higher income later in life.  In this way, nutrition is a building block for all health and development priorities, helping to break the cycle of poverty and improve the well-being of entire communities and generations.

After years of chronic underinvestment from all sources, the case for investing in nutrition is now indisputable. A convergence of new knowledge and impact analysis over the past several years has created an even clearer understanding of the devastating life-long impact of malnutrition on a child’s future health, learning ability and earning potential – and on entire countries’ development and ability to prosper. New, compelling evidence of high returns on investment nutrition’s impact on national and regional economic growth, combined with the technical know-how to implement these programs, makes this the resolute time to invest more in nutrition.

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of nearly half of all child deaths; approximately 3 million children die each year because of malnutrition. When children do survive but are malnourished, they are held back from achieving their fullest human potential to lead healthy and prosperous lives and contribute to the economic growth of their nation. Strong U.S. leadership and investment are urgently necessary to help countries and communities effectively address the foundational problem of global malnutrition in order to end preventable deaths and the stunting of human potential.     

Recent analysis found that the current level of global funding for nutrition is vastly insufficient to accelerate progress toward meeting the nutrition targets agreed to by the international community in 2012, and again in 2015. The U.S. government and its global partners invest less than 1% of Official Development Assistance in nutrition. In fact, only $3.9 billion is spent annually by all countries and donors on the high-impact nutrition programs that are proven to save lives. The study found that over the next ten years, an additional $70 billion in nutrition-specific financing is needed, for a total of $109 billion from 2016-2025; this translates to $10.9 billion each year from donors, high-burden countries, and households themselves. Such an investment would yield tremendous returns: 3.7 million child lives saved, at least 65 million fewer stunted children, 265 million fewer women suffering from anemia, 105 million more children exclusively breastfed and 91 million children treated for severe wasting as compared to the 2015 baseline.

While this level of investment is ambitious, it is not unprecedented. Nevertheless, in recognition of the resource-constrained environment in which we are currently operating, a subset of high-impact, high-priority interventions have been identified which would serve to accelerate progress toward reaching the targets and have a significant human impact.

$160 million for nutrition in the FY2018 Global Health Programs account1 would serve as a “down payment” toward the future health and economic prosperity of communities and entire countries. This smart and forward-looking investment would finance cost-effective, integrated activities such as nutrition education to improve maternal diets, proper nutrition during pregnancy, promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, improved infant and young child feeding practices, and treatment of acute malnutrition. As malnutrition requires a multi-sectoral response, the U.S. government also needs to ensure robust investments in other areas, including food security, agricultural development, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and maternal, newborn and child health.

Targeted U.S. investments in nutrition, combined with host-country and other global efforts, are yielding significant returns on investment. The development of the USAID Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy and the commitment to reduce stunting by 20% over five years in Feed the Future regions has resulted in early impact on stunting reduction. The new Congress and Administration take office at a time when the expanding evidence base on early nutrition has spurred interest in renewed action from many international partners.  By committing to robust engagement and investment in maternal and child nutrition, the U.S. government can enhance existing bilateral efforts, leverage investments from other donors, and encourage domestic resource mobilization from countries most affected by malnutrition.  

We look to bipartisan leadership in Congress to not only protect this funding, but to double it ($250 million) – a call we have issued over past years to ensure that the United States can continue to drive innovative, targeted, and cost-effective investments.

Now is the time for the U.S. to increase investments in lifesaving nutrition interventions and help transform the lives of millions of women and children, and entire generations. It is a matter of life and death, and of the economic prosperity entire nations.


1 The U.S. Government also provides some nutrition-specific funding in other accounts, and we support this work to continue. However, the Nutrition in Global Health Programs account provides the bulk of the U.S. government’s high-impact, nutrition-specific investments each year. The sub-account supports evidence-based, innovative and integrated approaches to prevent and treat undernutrition.  

Success Story

Early to Breast, Early to Thrive: Let’s Make It Work for Women in Developing Countries

At three months old, Thérèse’s son Ataadji was malnourished and unhealthy, weighing in at only six pounds. Within two months, Ataadji transformed into a thriving, healthy baby and his weight nearly tripled. The keys to this success? An Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) support group and exclusive breastfeeding.

Early breastfeeding is critical for maternal and newborn health (MNH). It serves as the baby’s “first vaccination,” providing an initial boost to the baby’s immune and digestive systems. It also promotes early skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, reduces post-partum hemorrhage, and more.

Across the Sud Kivu, Katanga, Kasaï Oriental, and Kasaï Occidental provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), only 2% of newborns were breastfed within the first hour of their birth in 2011. Ninety-eight percent of newborns were missing out on the benefits of early breastfeeding – making them more susceptible to malnutrition, illness, and other health and nutrition problems in the future.

Since 2010, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has worked across these four provinces, which constitute nearly 20% of DRC’s population, to improve MNH and nutrition. Through the USAID-funded Integrated Health Project (IHP), MSH supported optimal early breastfeeding practices, and by September 2014, 96% of newborns in these provinces were breastfed within the first hour after birth.

Two key interventions helped IHP achieve these impressive results:

    IHP’s biggest success is the integration of IYCF promotion into communities, particularly through creating and helping support groups for the mothers, a support service that did not previously exist. These groups share positive breastfeeding experiences and benefits; supervise and coach mothers; conduct cooking demonstrations with local foods and provide nutrition education to women and their families. Through an IYCF support group Thérèse received the training and continued support she needs for Ataadji. By training health zone management teams, trusted service providers, and community health workers in IYCF, IHP has established 1,080 IYCF support groups to date, reaching women and their families in 45 health zones within the four provinces.
    Working with the Ministry of Health, IHP facilitated the development of a national breastfeeding policy directing all health workers in DRC to help mothers breastfeed their newborns within an hour of giving birth. IHP took the directive one step further, working to circulate and implement this policy in health centers and hospitals around the country. With 85% of all deliveries occurring in health facilities, this directive is reaching women and helping them adopt early, optimal breastfeeding practices.

Through community- and national-level interventions, IHP is successfully increasing the number of women adopting early, optimal breastfeeding, and is committed to fighting all forms of malnutrition. IYCF groups continue to improve health and nutrition outcomes as rates of early breastfeeding increase; cases of malnutrition, childhood diarrhea, and fever decrease; and community relationships and health systems are strengthened.

Looking to the future, these highly-effective, low-cost interventions can easily be adopted across DRC and in other fragile states to save more babies like Ataadji.

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