Nutrition is not an explicit priority in South Korea's development policy

South Korea has not made nutrition a top priority in its development policy. Though the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) defines improving the nutritional status of pregnant women and children as one of its focus areas within the KOICA mid-term health strategy for 2011 to 2015, nutrition has still not been explicitly mentioned in recent national ODA policy and strategy documents. It remains to be seen whether KOICA will prioritize nutrition in its forthcoming health strategy for 2016 to 2020.

Because of nutrition’s absence in strategy documents, it is difficult to quantify South Korea’s financial engagement around nutrition. South Korea does not participate in the reporting framework set by the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ (SUN) initiative to track nutrition-sensitive interventions. The country also did not make a commitment at the 2013 Nutrition for Growth Summit, a summit held in London where participating countries signed on to a ‘global compact’ to improve nutrition, and made a range of international commitments. According to OECD data, South Korea spent US$3.5 million on basic nutrition in 2015, an increase from US$1 million per year from 2012 to 2014. The still-low number, however, is an indication that funding for nutrition-specific interventions remains very low so far.


Nutrition-specific:
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.

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


South Korea maintains a partnership with the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), and allocated US$34 million to the WFP in 2016. Since 2011, South Korea has built a partnership with the WFP to develop the ‘Korea-WFP Food for New Village’ (FFNV) initiative, a three-year project to increase food productivity and build self-reliance in agriculture across rural Nepal and Rwanda.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs leads South Korea’s nutrition strategy development

South Korea’s nutrition policy is largely defined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The Development Policy Division, within MOFA’s Development Cooperation Bureau (Bureau), is responsible for nutrition policies. Within the Bureau, the Multilateral Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance Division manages relations with multilateral organizations like the WFP.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and its International Cooperation Bureau are also engaged in nutrition. The Ministry’s total ODA budget for food and agricultural projects amounted to KRW 22.5 billion (US$21.4 million) in 2016.