Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition

Maternal and child diets at the heart of improving nutrition



Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition

This is the third annual report jointly written by United Nations agencies on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (in particular SDG 2 – Zero Hunger) and the World Health Assembly targets 2030 on nutrition in the Asia and Pacific region.

The first part of this report tracks progress on key SDG 2 indicators and World Health Assembly targets up to 2019. There is growing concern, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic will erase many of the gains made in earlier years, although the impact of the pandemic is not yet fully understood. Some scenarios present figures of up to 130 million additional people at risk of becoming acutely food insecure, with up to 24 million in the Asia and Pacific region. Globally, an additional 6.7 million children under five years of age are expected to become wasted. More than 3.8 million of these are estimated to live in Southern Asia. This deterioration comes on top of the pre-existing gaps in food security and nutrition and needs to be addressed urgently in a comprehensive manner by bringing together a wide range of stakeholders.

The second part of the report focuses on challenges and possible solutions to improve maternal and child diets in the Asia and Pacific region. Consumption of energy sufficient diets is not enough, as such diets lack vital macro and micronutrients and dietary diversity. Hence, promoting healthy diets, and implementing policies that allow the poor and vulnerable to afford these diets, is critical for the future productivity of their societies. To achieve healthy diets for all mothers and children in the Asia and Pacific region, the report recommends an integrated systems approach, bringing together food, water and sanitation, health, social protection and education systems to address the underlying and contributing factors of diets sustainably. The report describes promising experiences from the region and shows how, through multi-sectoral and systems analysis, these experiences can be woven into policy and practice. Additionally, the impacts of COVID-19 on the five interlocking systems noted above are highlighted to help mitigate the impacts on food security and nutrition.

We trust this report raises awareness of the importance of maternal and child diets for the health and wellbeing of everyone and supports the conversation of shaping policies and practices across the Asia and Pacific region to achieve food security and nutrition for all.

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