The first Millennium Development Goal set by the UN in 2000 pledged to end extreme poverty and halve the proportion of people living in hunger by 2015 (taking 1990 figures as a baseline). But recent efforts to combat hunger have been hampered by a series of economic and climate-related crises that have seen the number of people suffering from under-nutrition rise to an estimated 1 billion – one in six of the world’s population.
Efforts to combat under-nutrition can easily be undermined by poor quality data. For example, measuring a child’s height or length sounds simple – but is actually very hard to do accurately and consistently. In some countries where OPM works, collecting and assessing meaningful data on child growth and development is a significant challenge. Much of our work in this area therefore focuses on embedding rigorous processes and building capacity at local level.
Delivering effective nutritional programmes in developing countries is resource-intensive, often requiring the involvement of large numbers of well-trained frontline health workers. Success also depends on disseminating information that can help bring about lasting behavioural change, and convincing policy-makers of the vital role of nutrition in underpinning the future socio-economic development of their countries.