Belfast Telegraph

Aid boost to fight hunger

Ireland is to donate 3 million euro to help fight hunger among pregnant women and babies in some of the world's poorest countries.

Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello said investing in nutrition will help reduce death rates and in turn help economic growth.

"The message is simple. The 1,000 days between the beginning of a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday is the most critical period in that child's development," Mr Costello said.

"A nutritious diet during this window empowers children to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty. This is a unique opportunity to build healthier and more prosperous societies."

The junior minister is in New York to attend meetings with officials from all over the world to discuss how to tackle global poverty and hunger.

He will also join forces with US counterparts to renew calls for countries who have committed to increasing their focus on childhood nutrition to deliver on their commitments.

Ireland and the US launched a global partnership three years ago to improve mother and child nutrition - Scaling up Nutrition.

"We have seen great progress in many countries, but today we are urging governments, businesses, organisations and individuals to ensure that every child, everywhere, has the right nutrition to reach their full potential," he said.

Forty-one countries have signed on to the Scaling up Nutrition movement, with Ireland leading on donor coordination in three countries - Malawi, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

The funding announced today will be used to help vulnerable families access nutritious foods and to boost agricultural productivity.

It will also support drives to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding.

Mr Costello said 3.1 million children die from under-nutrition every year.

"Today, 165 million children are chronically malnourished, with devastating consequences for their long-term health," Mr Costello added.

"By investing in child nutrition we will ease suffering, reduce deaths and cap this terrible drain on human and economic potential."

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