Number of the Day

25%: The number of children globally who experience malnutrition.
Despite global efforts to address food security, chronic childhood malnutrition has been largely overlooked, putting almost half a billion children at risk of permanent damage in the next 15 years, Save the Children said in a new report released Wednesday.

"Malnutrition is a largely hidden crisis, but it afflicts one in four children around the world," said Carolyn Miles, President of Save the Children. "It wreaks lifelong damage and is a major killer of children." Every hour of every day, 300 children die because of malnutrition, according to the report titled "A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition."

"It's time for a paradigm shift. The world can no longer afford to wait until visibly emaciated children grab headlines to inspire the action these children need and deserve," Miles said in a statement.

While addressing food security, world leaders have galvanized much-needed support to boost agricultural productivity, but they have yet to make nutrition central to their efforts. In 2009, President Obama helped spearhead the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative, which inspired $22 billion in pledges at the G8 and G20 meetings. According to Save the Children, only 3 percent of these pledges and less than 1 percent of pledges fulfilled to date have targeted nutrition.

"Investment in agriculture is clearly important to making sure production keeps up with a growing population," said Miles. "But let's not forget, right now the world produces enough food to feed everybody, and yet one third of children in developing countries are malnourished. Clearly, just growing more food is not the answer."

So what is the answer? Well, there are some prescriptions in the report (pdf), but let's face it: The biggest need is a contagious willingness to do something to change this reality.

teaspoon icon It can feel overwhelming when you read a number like half a billion children, because what can any one person do? Save the Children has plenty of different ways you can help, besides or in addition to donating.

[Note: I am not affiliated with Save the Children in any way.]

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