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CNN and UNICEF raise awareness of the silent emergency of child stunting

Source:  UN Children's Fund
Country:  World, Afghanistan, India, Kenya

New York, United States of America, 16 October 2012 – CNN has partnered with UNICEF to put the international spotlight on the global crisis of stunting, or low height for age in children. About 165 million children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting, with more than 90 per cent of them living in Africa and Asia.

Stunting is a hidden tragedy – the outcome of chronic nutritional deficiency during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The damage it causes to a child’s development is irreversible. That child will never learn, nor earn, as much as she or he could have, if properly nourished in early life.

Tackling undernutrition

Tackling the problem of undernutrition, which leads to stunting, is achievable and cost effective. Leading development experts have ranked providing young children with micronutrients as the most cost-effective way to advance global welfare.

UNICEF is a leader in a global effort to deliver a life-saving package of interventions to the world’s poorest communities during the critical 1,000-day period. These interventions include: promoting breastfeeding and good infant and child feeding practices; micronutrient supplementation and fortification; treatment of severe acute malnutrition; and community support for nutrition programming.

Children worldwide have the same capacity to reach their height potential, if they receive adequate nutrition, their caregivers follow recommended feeding, care and health practices and they grow up in healthy environments. By raising awareness of this problem, CNN is helping to make this happen.

CNN and UNICEF, partners in awareness-raising

CNN has worked with UNICEF to tell the story of stunting, starting with CNN.com, where essays by world-class footballer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham and internationally acclaimed actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow have been highlighted. CNN’s Mallika Kapur has reported on an Indian state’s battle to build up its babies.

CNN has also visited three countries in which stunting is a problem and is airing the pieces on CNN International, bringing the problem to life by showing mothers and children who are suffering from undernutrition.

In Afghanistan, the story is told in the context of a country ravaged by many years of war.

In Kenya, undernutrition has had profound effects on child development. Grammy Award winner and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo has visited Samburu, in northern Kenya, and expressed her concerns about the problem.

CNN has also traveled to India to report on the stunting epidemic in that country.

Christiane Amanpour is drawing attention to the issue on her CNN show by interviewing Ms. Kidjo and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

CNN has also posted links to other relevant stories on their website, from the Sahel, Mauritania and Yemen.

More about UNICEF’s work in the area of stunting:

Mr. Lake on The global crisis you’ve never heard of: stunting (Time magazine)

Mr. Lake and President of the United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete on How improving children's diets can aid development (BBC)

Mr. Lake, Investing in nutrition security is key to sustainable development

Global Meeting on Long-term Consequences of Stunting

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