Over half a billion dollars pledged to tackle severe wasting since July in unprecedented international response to deepening child malnutrition crisis

At least 60 per cent of commitments will directly support UNICEF’s work in 15 countries hardest hit by the food and nutrition crisis

23 September 2022

NEW YORK, 21 September 2022  Governments, philanthropies, and private donors have pledged approximately US$577 million since July in response to the deepening child malnutrition crisis – with at least 60 per cent of that amount committed to directly supporting UNICEF’s work.

Roughly US$280 million of the over half billion raised was pledged today at The Child Malnutrition Crisis: Pledging to Save Lives – a high-level event co-hosted by UNICEF, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and the government of Senegal at UNICEF Headquarters in New York.

The governments of Canada, Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom; and the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the Eleanor Crook Foundation, the Greta Thunberg Foundation, Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and King Philanthropies came together at the high-level event during the 77th annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to address the growing food crisis.   

The commitments were made as climate-driven drought, conflict, and rising food prices continue to drive up emergency levels of severe wasting in young children worldwide. In 15 countries hardest hit, including in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, a child is being pushed into severe malnutrition every minute, according to a recent analysis by UNICEF.

“An escalating malnutrition crisis is pushing millions of children to the brink of starvation – and unless we do more, that crisis will become a catastrophe,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “UNICEF is immensely grateful for the pledges we have received, but we need further unrestricted funding to reach children before it is too late. We cannot stand by and let children die – not when we know how to prevent, detect, and treat severe wasting.”

Today’s commitments build upon pledges made in July, when USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced an unprecedented contribution of US$200 million to UNICEF to detect and treat severe child wasting. At that time, an additional US$50 million was pledged by private philanthropies including Philanthropist and Chair of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) Sir Chris Hohn, the Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF), The CRI Foundation, and The ELMA Relief Foundation, to address the malnutrition crisis.      

“The majority of children facing severe malnutrition – nearly two-thirds of children who need treatment – live in places not currently in crisis, places that don’t normally receive humanitarian aid,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power. “We are working to change that, to recognize that treatment for severe malnutrition is not solely a humanitarian need, but in some places, a development requirement, too.”

Severe wasting – which makes children dangerously thin – is the most visible and lethal form of undernutrition. Weakened immune systems increase the risk of death among children under 5 by up to 11 times compared to well-nourished children.

In response, UNICEF has scaled up its efforts in 15 countries most affected by the malnutrition crisis. Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen are included in an Acceleration Plan calling for US$1.2 billion to help avert a rise in child deaths and mitigate the long-term damage of severe wasting.

The pledges to UNICEF will help provide services for the early prevention, detection and treatment of child wasting, and expand access to life-saving ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and other essential nutritious commodities needed during crises.

During today’s event, UNICEF and partners also launched an expansion of the Child Nutrition Fund, a long-term multi-partner financing mechanism to support the early prevention, detection and treatment of child wasting. By working with governments to consolidate and strategically allocate financial resources, the Child Nutrition Fund aims to accelerate global progress and end the cycle of severe child wasting.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented child malnutrition crisis. The fact that many millions of children have to experience severe malnutrition in their first few years of life is unacceptable,” said Co-founder and Chair of CIFF Chris Hohn. “We already know many of the solutions for prevention, early detection and treatment of child wasting but we need to do more to ensure these solutions are scaled. This requires sustainable long-term and coordinated funding. The early success of the Child Nutrition Fund is incredibly encouraging and its expansion into becoming the largest centralised response to combat child wasting at scale is exactly what’s needed. I am pleased to announce the CIFF intends to allocate an additional $40 million for addressing child wasting.”

“As we face global challenges, including the ripple effects of COVID-19, we should always keep acute malnutrition and stunting as priorities on the multilateral agenda,” said Minister Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Senegal to the United Nations Diamane Diome. “Working with national and international stakeholders, such as USAID, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and other multilateral and bilateral partners, Senegal has made great progress in this regard. This shows that we can overcome the challenge of child acute malnutrition and stunting, if we work collaboratively and with a sense of urgency, on the basis of our shared values. Senegal is committed to sharing the experience and lessons it has learned in the process. That is why I am happy to take part in this timely meeting alongside USAID and UNICEF.”


Canada’s Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency Harjit S. Sajjan said:
“Acute malnutrition can be prevented, and the effects mitigated, if detected and treated early. Together we can put a stop to this – but we must act now. Working alongside allies like USAID and with partners like UNICEF, the World Food Programme and Nutrition International, Canada continues to be part of the solution.”

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney T.D. said:
“The world has reached a crossroads where climate change, continuous conflict in many regions, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine have converged to deepen and accelerate global food and nutrition insecurity. Together we must do more - and do it urgently. Today Ireland was pleased to announce a pledge of €50 million over three years towards accelerating the global response for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of child wasting. This will be additional to Ireland’s commitment made at the 2021 Nutrition for Growth Summit of €800 million over five years. We look forward to working closely with USAID, UNICEF and other global partners on this critical work in the months and years ahead.”

Kingdom of the Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher said:
“To ease the current food and nutrition crisis, we must all increase our efforts. That’s why the Kingdom of the Netherlands invests in a new partnership with UNICEF to focus on the prevention of undernutrition among children, women and adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

CEO, Board Member of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Mark Suzman said:
“I’m encouraged by the unified response to today’s crisis, but it’s not enough for us to respond to this disaster. We must also do everything in our power to prevent the next one with long-term, sustainable investments. The foundation’s $20 million pledge to the UNICEF Child Nutrition Fund today doubles our previous commitment and will expand the fund’s focus to include life-saving nutrition products that prevent wasting for the most vulnerable. Together, we can create a future where every child can reach their full potential.”

CEO of the Eleanor Crook Foundation William Moore said:
"The Eleanor Crook Foundation is proud to be part of this incredible coalition of funders and make an additional commitment to combat the worsening child wasting crisis. With cost-effective and life-saving treatments like ready-to-use therapeutic food available, no child should suffer or die of malnutrition. In life, there are no silver bullets, but when it comes to keeping malnourished children alive, RUTF is as close as one comes. I applaud all of the donors who have stepped up during this moment of global crisis and plea for others to come to the table. This is progress but it's not the finish line, and millions more children need our help."

Climate and environmental activist Greta Thunberg said:
“Millions of children are currently being affected by the floods in Pakistan and the drought in Somalia, the latest signs of an accelerating climate crisis. People in these countries have done next to nothing to contribute to the crisis, yet they are among the ones being affected the most. We must all do what we can to support emergency relief work on the ground, and call on our governments to stop ignoring the climate crisis and prevent further suffering.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Director, Humanitarian Services, Sharon Eubank said:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pleased to expand our long-term collaboration with UNICEF and pledge $5 million in support of the No Time to Waste Malnutrition campaign. This funding comes in small increments from hard-working families and from widows who have limited incomes and from little children themselves. It was given by Latter-day Saints so that mothers will have healthier pregnancies and births and they can offer therapeutic food and micronutrients to their children who might be at risk.”

President and CEO of King Philanthropies Kim Starkey said:
“At King Philanthropies, we deploy grants and impact investments to catalyze solutions at the intersection of climate change and extreme poverty. Malnutrition sits squarely and stubbornly at this intersection. Those who will be most affected by climate change are those in extreme poverty, who also suffer most significantly from malnutrition. These individuals did the least to cause climate change. Yet it gravely threatens their livelihoods in agriculture, food security, and the nutritional status of their families. Today, King Philanthropies enthusiastically says yes to this initiative to fight severe malnutrition and wasting.”

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