Every mother in the world wants her children to be happy, healthy and to live long, prosperous lives. The key to giving this to her children is good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of the baby’s life — from pregnancy to age two. To meet this critical need, the WFP and its partners provide the right food at the right time along with health services to help break the cycle of hunger and poor health.
Access to nutritious food is not always available to mothers and children. Hunger feeds on rising food prices, drought, floods, war, inequality and poverty. Feeding mothers and children during critical window nourishes their future.
Malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of life can create lifelong irreversible damage to the mind and body of a child. Chronic malnourished leads to disease and inadequate education. About 170 million children are chronically malnourished, and 450 million children will potentially be stunted in the next 15 years. WFP provides children of this age, and pregnant women, with food and specialized nutrition products.
Maternal and child under-nutrition is the underlying cause of 3.5 million preventable deaths in children under five each year and more than one-third of the burden of disease for children today. Mothers who were undernourished as girls are 40 percent more likely to give birth to children who will not live to the age of five. In Yemen, for example, families have begun skipping meals and taking their children out of school as a result of a food security crisis in 2012.
WFP gives special products, including fortified blended foods like Corn Soya Blend, micronutrient powders, and fat-based pastes, to mothers and children. These provisions are critical in the Sahel crisis, where WFP has distributed blanket supplementary feeding and food distributions. WFP has food distribution structures available in over 70 countries.
WFP supports governments in providing Mother and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN) services. Services include vaccinations, growth monitoring, pre- and post-natal care, vitamin A and iron supplements and deworming. Some new WFP Toolbox strategies are home-fortification with multi-micronutrient powder (also known as “sprinkles”) and ready-to-use supplementary foods
Nutritional support must begin and endure throughout the first two years of life in order to be successful.