Collaborating to Fight Childhood Malnutrition and Meet UN Sustainability Development Goal

An Interview with Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE USA



In September 2015, countries convened at a historical UN General Assembly to launch the new 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Over the next 14 years, these 17 goals (encompassing 169 targets) will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. For these goals to be reached, everyone has to partner together to do their part: governments, private sector, NGOs, and civil society.

Amway had a voice in helping shape the goals and targets for ending hunger and eliminating malnutrition in all its forms, but that was the simple step. That voice was possible because of years of actions in using our core competencies in nutrition science and expertise to address a critical issue like childhood malnutrition.

One year after the announcement of these Sustainable Development Goals, Amway asked Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE USA (one of our global partners) to reflect on the significance of these goals, as well as our unique and strong partnership.

Jeff Terry, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility
Amway Corporation


How does CARE work with Amway to fight childhood malnutrition?

CARE and Amway have been working closely for several years with a shared goal of decreasing childhood malnutrition. Together we partner with organizations addressing malnutrition through education, nutrition and feeding programs and support the incorporation of Nutrilite™ Little Bits™, a micronutrient powder containing 15 vitamins and minerals essential to healthy growth and development. In the past two years, CARE has supported Amway in the development of educational tools and a global monitoring and evaluation system and the program has grown from 2 to 15 countries, reaching tens of thousands of children.

Together we’ve witnessed many success stories. In the Dominican Republic, a young, 17-year-old mother approached our nutrition program with concerns about her one-month old baby who only weighed four pounds at birth and had only gained half a pound in the following month. The mother admitted she didn’t know how to properly care or feed her daughter, and she began attending educational workshops and counselling at the clinic. Four months later she exudes confidence and pride, describing herself as a “capable mother,” eager to share her knowledge with other young mothers in her community. Her daughter has gained over 8 pounds, reaching a healthy weight for her age. 

It’s been almost a year since the Sustainable Development Goals were announced. What progress has been achieved in the first 365 days, especially as it relates to the goal focused on ending hunger and eliminating malnutrition?

Implementing Agenda 2030 is very much a work in progress, goal-by-goal. In the past year, the UN has focused on engaging governments, UN agencies, private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders to convert this global level document to a full array of actions, indicators and systems in order to create implementation plans in every country. Discussions have been had most recently around how to finance this agenda and creating frameworks and indicators to monitor its success.

CARE helped influence the SDG process for three years leading up to their adoption in September of 2015. We were very pleased that the sustainable development agenda commits governments to ending hunger and malnutrition in all its forms.

How is CARE working to address the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals were created with the mindset that business as usual would not be enough to end poverty in all its forms and fight inequality. And it’s that same mindset that governs CARE’s approach to programs. We work to promote innovative solutions to empower women and girls, end hunger and malnutrition and facilitate lasting change. We have committed to helping 50 million poor and vulnerable people improve their food and nutrition security and their resilience to climate change by 2020.

We do this in a variety of ways, including promoting the right and ability of most vulnerable to have the same access to nutritious foods and fair markets as everyone else. Shaka Tangara, now a five-year-old, healthy boy in Mali, lost his mom before he even met her – during childbirth. His village assumed he would die as well, but one woman, Salimata, would not accept that. CARE, through the Pathways program, had recently planted moringa trees as part of a conservation agriculture project. Salimata had heard a lot about the nutrition that moringa leaves offer, so she made porridge with the leaves along with what she had learned about nutrition and complementary feeding to feed Shaka. He lived, and the community realized the nutrition education they were receiving was worth the effort. Now, there is not a single person in the village who has not benefited from the project.

Additionally, our partnership with Amway is one of the many ways we’re working to achieve our goal of reaching 50 million people by 2020. To truly achieve food and nutrition security for all, we must tackle the vicious cycle of malnutrition. When children are malnourished, it has permanent negative impacts on physical and well as cognitive development, meaning lower growth, learning, and earning potential. By 2019 we aim to be working with Amway in 20 countries, which would be a remarkable amount of growth, and enable us to reach hundreds of thousands of malnourished children worldwide.

How will progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals impact people and nations? What changes do you expect? How will things be different in the next 5 or 10 years?

The Sustainable Development Goals, if implemented systematically across the globe, will transform economies, societies, governance – and will prevent the escalation of climate change. CARE was really pleased that the final document outlining the Sustainable Development Goals includes stand-alone goals on both climate change and gender equality, and a commitment to reproductive rights. Gender equality and women’s empowerment cross-cutting and has the ability to greatly multiply impact on lives and nations if integrated into each of the other SDGs. The Sustainable Development Goals will guide the way the global community fights again poverty, climate change and injustice for the next 15 years, and ensuring these fundamental targets of climate change and gender equality are included means we’ve started strong.

CARE works closely with partners globally in a variety of forms. How do you successfully build on these partnerships and leverage partners’ support?

At CARE, we firmly believe that dynamic partnerships are critical to solving complex global challenges. Our partners – which include corporations, foundations, and government agencies at all levels, academic and research institutions, and sister NGOs – are committed to developing and supporting socially responsible initiatives that build stronger communities in the developing world while enhancing business and development goals. We approach each partnership by first ensuring that we share common values and then identifying where our expertise and assets can be leveraged, because we know that together we are greater than the sum of our parts.

From your wealth of experience in this field, what could you share with other international organizations working in this sector to establish partnerships or build on existing relationships?

We all know the global development landscape is changing. There are new actors in the space, which allows for different perspectives on the best path to addressing extreme poverty and for technology and innovation that offer fresh approaches. I believe transformational change is necessary and possible given what’s happened with technology over the last decade or two, AND the only way to achieve that is through partnerships.

CARE’s work with Amway is a great example of how we are partnering with the private sector, in unique and innovative ways. Both our organizations invested a lot of time and resources to build this partnership. We first established trust and open dialogue between our organizations which has helped us navigate challenges along the way toward our shared goal of creating maximum impact for the children and communities we serve.

What's the one call to action to stakeholders involved in the nutrition space - in terms of funding, personnel, or political commitment - that you think would really help shift the needle and secure sustainable change?

We need to be sure we’re creating programs that commit to making changes for the most excluded people – especially women – and that we’re thinking about scale. Women’s empowerment is key, not only for directing nutrition benefits such as household food distribution and infant and young child feeding, but also for maximizing the impact of nutrition in other sectors, such as agriculture. 

Tweet me: Collaborating to Fight Childhood #Malnutrition + Meet @UN #SDGs @CARE @amway #powerof5 #hungerrelief #fighthunger

KEYWORDS: Health, Corporate Social Responsibility, Amway, CARE USA, UN Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, malnutrition, hunger relief

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