Go-ahead for Transform Nutrition

In September 2012, Transform Nutrition Research Programme Consortium secured funding for its ambitious research agenda. The five year programme aims to gather evidence that will transform thinking and action on addressing undernutrition.

The programme has been made possible by a grant from the UK Government. The news follows UK Prime Minister, David Cameron’s Olympic legacy event which secured global commitments to reduce undernutrition.

Undernutrition is the underlying cause of death for 2.6 million pre-school children every year; a third of all child deaths in that age group. For those who survive, poor nutrition undermines school performance and later earning capacity. While the human and economic costs are enormous, the rate of undernutrition reduction remains extremely slow. Using research-based evidence, Transform Nutrition aims to inspire effective action to address undernutrition.

David Nabarro at World Bank meeting

David Nabarro. Source: World Bank 2009

“The case has been made for nutrition interventions, but these are not being scaled up fast enough,” explains David Nabarro, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition. “Agriculture and social protection programmes have a major potential to improve nutrition, but this is rarely exploited. Addressing undernutrition can free millions of children to fulfil their potential. For this to happen, nutrition needs to be made a political and development priority. Transform Nutrition’s research agenda is designed to help make this happen.”

Over five years, from September 2012 to August 2017, Transform Nutrition will contribute nutrition-relevant evidence to accelerate the reduction in undernutrition. The focus of the research will be the highest burden regions of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, and Kenya. At the centre of the research is the window of opportunity – a child’s first 1000 days from conception to 24 months- when interventions can have the greatest impact.

“Nobody is against addressing undernutrition, but it is an issue that has been neglected.” says Stuart Gillespie, CEO, of Transform Nutrition. “Political leaders, ministries and programme implementers need evidence to support more effective action. Our team, which includes world leaders in this field, can now start work on new research.”

Transform Nutrition is a consortium of international research partners. Led by the International Food Policy Research Institute, members include: Institute of Development Studies; International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh; Public Health Foundation of India; Save the Children; and the University of Nairobi.