The UK has invested £3.7 billion in tackling malnutrition since the nutrition for growth summit in 2013. The UK has reached 55.1 million children, women and adolescent girls through our nutrition programmes from 2015 to 2020. I was really pleased when the Foreign Secretary appointed the UK’s first special envoy for famine prevention and humanitarian affairs last year, announcing alongside that £119 million to address food insecurity and a £30 million partnership with UNICEF to address acute malnutrition.
It was excellent to see UK leadership on global nutrition acknowledged by world leaders at the Canada nutrition for growth event in December, which launched 2021 as a year of action for nutrition. That could hardly be more timely, given that covid-19 is causing rates of malnutrition worldwide to rise for the first time in decades. So nutrition must be central to my hon. Friend’s new Department’s objectives for aid spending. For example, it is impossible to meaningfully progress girls’ education while rates of malnutrition among girls are on the rise. Will the Government therefore urgently review their commitment to tackle malnutrition as part of their participation in the year of action?
I know my right hon. Friend has taken a keen interest in this and has been trying to get a question at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office orals for some time. It is evident that good nutrition underpins education and health outcomes, and adult learning, in developing countries. That was the rationale for the UK playing a lead role on nutrition over the past decade. The prevention and treatment of malnutrition remain key to achieving the Government’s commitment to ending the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children. The Department is, of course, beginning a rigorous internal prioritisation process in response to the spending review announcement, and we will update on the implications of that for nutrition as soon as is feasible.