Nutrition issues are integrated within health, agriculture, and water, sanitation and hygiene

Nutrition has become a top priority for the UK government’s development agenda. The UK has played a role in mobilizing the global community to combat undernutrition. The UK hosted the ‘Hunger Summit’ during the London Olympics in 2012, and in June 2013 co-hosted the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit, whose aim was to transform millions of lives worldwide by galvanizing global efforts to tackle undernutrition.

At the N4G summit, the UK committed to significantly scale up its nutrition investments over the period 2013-2020, by 1) providing an additional US$573 million (£375 million) for direct nutrition programs compared with 2010 spend, 2) unlocking a further US$428 million (£280 million) for direct nutrition programs to match new financial commitments by other donors, and 3) providing US$922 million (£604 million) to address the underlying causes of undernutrition over the same period (2013 to 2020).

The Department for International Development’s (DFID) strategies on nutrition are outlined in two main documents. The first is DFID’s ‘The neglected crisis of undernutrition’ strategy, published in 2009. The second document, published in 2011, is a position paper on undernutrition called ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’, which outlined the actions DFID would take to tackle undernutrition based on the work outlined in the first strategy. The four objectives in the position paper are: 1) Increase coverage of nutrition-specific programs, 2) Leverage more nutrition outcomes from nutrition-sensitive programs, 3) Generate new solutions to undernutrition, including through expanding the evidence base, and 4) Promote a more effective international response..

Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.

Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).

According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, the UK’s nutrition-specific interventions amounted to US$87 million in 2014. A further US$780 million was spent on nutrition-sensitive interventions (see box). In 2015 the UK made a commitment “to improve the nutrition of 50 million people by 2020”. Those targeted for assistance include children under five, breast-feeding women, women of childbearing age, and adolescent girls.

A refreshed position paper setting out the breadth and range of DFID’s strategy on nutrition is due to be published in 2017. DFID supports the global ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ movement and works in more than 15 countries to support the scale-up of nutrition programs.

DFID shapes the UK's policy on nutrition

DFID is the key department involved in decision making around nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programs in developing countries, and works to develop more multi-sectoral, integrated programs within DFID country programs. Within DFID’s headquarters, the nutrition team within the Human Development Department leads DFID’s policy engagement, including by working in collaboration with health, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, and social protection programs.