Food, Nutrition, and Rural Livelihoods—
COMBATING MALNUTRITION TO IMPROVE EARNINGS, EDUCATION, AND HEALTH
In-house research efforts led King Philanthropies to launch a new initiative in Food, Nutrition, and Rural Livelihoods, which brings tremendous opportunity for impact in extreme poverty alleviation. More than three-quarters of the world’s extreme poor live and work in rural areas, do not have enough to eat, and suffer from under-nutrition.
Indeed, in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia alone, more than 500 million people suffer from undernourishment; poor nutrition causes 45 percent of deaths in children under five years old. Malnutrition stunts physical and mental growth and robs people of the ability to reach their full potential, thus trapping them in a cycle of poverty and illness that can persist for generations.
Evidence shows that malnutrition is not just an effect of poverty, but also a cause. Reducing and eliminating malnutrition therefore brings multi-faceted benefits, including improvement in school attainment, health, wages and ultimately higher gross national product. To fully move out of extreme poverty, those in rural areas must be well-nourished and also have opportunities to improve their livelihoods, typically by moving beyond subsistence farming into situations where they can sell surplus and processed crops. The importance of rural livelihoods is underscored by research that shows that growth in the agriculture sector is about two to four times more effective in raising incomes among the poorest compared to other sectors.
King Philanthropies selected Myanmar (also known as Burma) as the first location of our pilot in Food, Nutrition and Rural Livelihoods because of its significant unmet needs in these areas and because the country is at a critical inflection point. Two-thirds of Myanmar’s 54 million people live in rural areas, and the country has some of the highest rates of malnutrition in the Asia Pacific region. For example, more than one in three children in Myanmar are stunted (i.e., short for age, an indicator of chronic undernutrition), with children in the country’s poorest households twice as likely to be stunted. Despite the country’s increased economic development in recent years, significant poverty and poor nutrition remain prevalent. We believe that now is the time to intervene in Myanmar to help address these unmet needs. The new national leadership has coalesced political will and is committed to moving the country’s development forward.
 “Nutrition, WFP Myanmar.” World Food Programme. July 2014.
500 million suffer from hunger and malnutrition
78% of extreme poor in rural areas
Recognizing the importance of both agriculture and nutrition to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor, King Philanthropies in early 2017 launched a pilot supporting best-in-class organizations working in food, nutrition, and rural livelihoods. The pilot will focus on Myanmar, with subsequent efforts focused on West Africa and South Asia.
Read an announcement of the launch of this new initiative.