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UK government urges big business to tackle global hunger

The UK has teamed up with a leading global nutrition charity to push the private sector to produce food which is good for people and the planet, Development Minister Andrew Mitchell announced today on World Food Day.

The partnership with the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) will encourage some of the largest food companies to help people at risk of malnutrition make healthier choices, particularly vulnerable populations in lower-income countries, including Bangladesh, Kenya, and Tanzania.

The UK’s £2 million package of support will allow ATNI to carry out assessments of the world’s largest food and drink companies, over a 2-year period, gathering data on factors including how healthy and sustainable their products are. They will also aim to capture for the first time how well they support and meet the needs of communities that are at risk of malnutrition and preventable deaths, specifically of women and children.

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today announced a further £10 million in humanitarian aid for civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). This is in response to the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza, including shortages of key goods and widespread displacement due to the conflict.   

The funding will allow trusted partners, including key UN agencies to provide essential relief items and services including food, water and emergency shelter.

The UK will partner with the UAE and Somalia to host a global food security summit on 20 November sponsored by and developed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) to galvanize action to tackle hunger and malnutrition, including through cutting edge UK funded science and technology. On the same day, the UK will publish the International Development White Paper.

Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell said:

As many as 60 million children around the world suffered from severe malnutrition last year - but their pain is entirely preventable. We must act now using all the tech, science, and other tools at our disposal to stop hunger harming future generations.

Newly published statistics show that FCDO has reached 13.8 million people with food aid, cash and vouchers through bilateral humanitarian support since 2022. This helped millions of marginalised people affected by humanitarian crises such as earthquakes, famines and conflict in countries including Syria, Ukraine, Sudan, and Bangladesh. The support has provided nutritious food for children and pregnant women, vouchers that can be exchanged for things like sanitary products or household items at designated vendors, and cash that allows people to buy food.

The UK-hosted summit will explore how innovation, partnerships and the latest technological advances can ensure long-term food security and improved nutrition for people in the hardest-hit countries.  

Through FCDO’s partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK is helping to find solutions to address global food and climate challenges – including developing more nutritious, resilient crop varieties and innovating to tackle pests and diseases. 

Rodger Voorhies, President of the Global Growth and Opportunity Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said:

We must find new ways of responding to climate shocks and humanitarian crises, while accelerating innovations to prevent these crises in the future. UK leadership, including the upcoming summit on food security, will be critical to advancing solutions to prevent hunger and malnutrition, while building a climate resilient agriculture sector that can support a healthier, more equitable future for all.

The Child Nutrition Fund (CNF) is an innovative way of tackling child wasting and famine in some of the most vulnerable countries in the world through match funding that doubles every Naira or Rupee that governments in those countries spend on preventing and treating child wasting. This allows countries to double their investment in essential services and supplies for the prevention, detection and treatment of child wasting.

Severe wasting, the most severe form of malnutrition, is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths of children under 5. The CNF is scaling up prevention and treatment services in countries with the greatest need such as Nigeria and Pakistan.

Anna Hakobyan, chief impact officer at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, said:

Hunger and malnutrition are devastating for children. There is an urgent need to scale up known solutions for prevention and treatment of child malnutrition through sustainable and concerted action from governments, civil society, and the private sector.

This needs to be coupled with systemic approaches to food systems that are fit for supporting a healthy planet and thriving children. We are looking forward to this important summit to galvanize action and innovations for turning the tide against rising hunger and malnutrition.

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