Nutrition for Children and Mothers

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of nearly 3.1 million child deaths each year1. Worldwide, more than 170 million children fail to reach their full potential due to poor nutrition and 2 billion people suffer the effects of nutritional deficiencies. Under-nutrition is also estimated to account for a 10 percent reduction of lifetime earnings, placing a huge burden on household and national economies2. Malnutrition includes under-nutrition and over-nutrition both of which lead to poor health conditions and early death in developing and developed countries around the world1.

Well-nourished children are better equipped to fight disease, learn and contribute to society. Girls with good nutrition become strong women and have healthier children and more prosperous families. Societies with well-nourished populations are more productive, economically viable and secure.

Learn more about our legacy in nutrition here.

Save the Children's Work to Prevent Malnutrition

The first 1,000 days — from the start of a woman’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday: that’s the time frame Save the Children emphasizes as the “window of opportunity” for nutrition. During this time, a child’s brain and body develop rapidly. The 1,000-days approach is critical, for even if a child’s nutrition status improves after the first two years of life, damage done during those early years is largely irreversible.

We work with partners at all levels to prevent malnutrition by bringing a wide range of integrated interventions and programs to mothers and children, delivered through health workers and volunteers in the community and health staff at the health facility. Our programs:

  • address adequate food and nutrient intake, effective feeding and care practices, and protection against infectious diseases;
  • support breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding at six months, feeding during illness, food preparation, hygiene and health care-seeking;
  • improve access to essential micronutrients through fortification, supplementation and dietary diversity measures;
  • work to increase demand for services and better practices through social and behavior change communications.

To ensure progress on the frontlines of nutrition, it is essential to galvanize and capitalize on political commitment. Save the Children supports the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, a global platform that is active in more than 30 countries, and we convene the SUN Civil Society global network and facilitate coalitions in several countries to build capacity in nutrition planning and policy.

Save the Children Nutrition Programs Highlights:

  • In Ethiopia, we lead the USAID- and Feed the Future-funded Growth through Nutrition project, a 5-year (2016 2021), multisector, integrated flagship multi-sector nutrition project in Ethiopia, Empowering New Generations to Improve Nutrition and Economic Opportunities (ENGINE). Focusing on first 1,000 days households, the project works with the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) to reduce stunting/chronic undernutrition by 20% and reach 28,000 poor/vulnerable households with nutrition and livelihood support in 100 Woredas of the five largest regions of Ethiopia.
  • In Cambodia, we lead NOURISH, a five-year (2014 2019) USAID- and Feed the Future-funded multi-sectoral nutrition, WASH and agriculture project. NOURISH aims to improve the nutritional status of women and children in underserved, rural communities during the first 1,000 days. The project works with the Royal Government of Cambodia from the national to local levels to accelerate stunting reduction by focusing directly on several of the key causal factors of chronic malnutrition. In pursuit of this goal, NOURISH has four key strategies: 1) improving community delivery platforms to support better nutrition; 2) creating demand for health, WASH and agriculture practices, services and products through social and behavior change communication, conditional cash transfers and vouchers to incentivize use of key health and nutrition services and products and community-led total sanitation (CLTS); 3) engaging the private sector to expand supply of agriculture and WASH products; and 4) building government and civil society capacity in integrated nutrition. NOURISH supports 563 villages across three provinces, reaching 500,000 women and children each year.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Governments of Canada and Ireland-funded Alive & Thrive Initiative, led by FHI 360, works to reduce morbidity, mortality and stunting by addressing sub-optimal infant and young child feeding practices at scale. The program has contributed to a nearly threefold increase in exclusive breastfeeding in Viet Nam (from 19 to 58 percent between 2010 to 2014), among other improvements in nutrition practices in intervention areas. Alive & Thrive builds on lessons learned through its partnership with BRAC, GMMB, IFPRI, Save the Children, UC Davis, and World Vision in the first phase of the initiative.
  • Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) is a 5-year USAID flagship nutrition project dedicated to strengthening global and country efforts to advance supportive nutrition policies, and scale up high-impact nutrition interventions. SPRING provides technical support to create social and behavior change through communication, link agriculture and nutrition, and prevent stunting and maternal and child anemia in the first 1,000 days after birth.


1. Development Initiatives, 2017. Global Nutrition Report 2017: Nourishing the SDGs.
2. Meera Shekar, leslie Elder, Harold Alderman etal. WB Report 2017: Improving Nutrition Through Multi-sectoral Approaches


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