jecohen3_Eva Marie UzcateguiGetty Images_childhunger Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

Financing Childhood Growth

According to estimates by World Bank economists, implementing tested nutrition interventions to prevent childhood stunting would boost economic productivity and tax revenues in low-income countries. With benefits outweighing costs by a ratio of at least five to one, impact investors could be induced to finance targeted outcomes.

NEW YORK – In 2020, chronic undernutrition stunted the growth of nearly a quarter of the world’s children under five years old. Being too short for one’s age, as a result of chronic undernutrition, can cause irreversible physical and cognitive damage and increases the risk of dying from common infections.

Improving the lives of these children is not a question of food supply. Current cereal grain production, about 2.8 billion tons, provides enough calories to feed 11-14 billion people – more than meeting humanity’s current needs. But less than half of the world’s grain is eaten by humans, with the remainder fed to animals or burned as fuel. Almost every gallon of gasoline in the United States, for example, contains 10% corn ethanol.

Too poor to affect grain prices in global markets, the chronically hungry are economically invisible. To avert the devastating and long-lasting effects of poor nutrition and health, we propose an innovative financing mechanism that will attract impact investors and ensure adequate food for these malnourished children.

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