IFAD's contribution to the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition is high on its corporate agenda, with "improving the nutritional level of the poorest populations in developing countries" as a principal objective. Given its dual nature as a UN specialized agency in smallholder agriculture and rural development, and an international financial institution that provides governments with the finance needed to make lasting and effective investments in nutrition, IFAD plays a unique role among development actors. Its work specifically targets the poor and most vulnerable households in rural areas, including women, children, youth – in particular adolescent girls – and indigenous peoples. By investing in nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems, IFAD aims to improve the dietary quality of its beneficiary rural populations.
As the first UN agency to commit to the Nutrition Decade in 2017, IFAD is best placed to report on its achievements thus far. In 2018, 100% of the country strategic opportunities programmes (COSOPs) approved by the IFAD's Executive Board were nutrition sensitive. For projects (loans and grants), 13 of the 27 projects approved for financing were nutrition sensitive, equalling 48% of projects during the course of the year and surpassing the original target of 33% of projects. The approved projects will support 13 developing countries: Bangladesh, Benin, Burundi, Brazil, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, and Sierra Leone. IFAD also organized two regional capacity building workshops to strengthen the capacity of both design and implementation of nutrition sensitive programs, training 117 professionals representing various IFAD investments in both Latin America and the Caribbean and East and Southern Africa regions. This work contributes to the Nutrition Decade Action Areas 1, 3, 4 and 5. In addition, technical assistance was provided to COSOP development, project design and implementation.
In October 2018, IFAD organized and hosted the third International Conference on Adolescents Girls, encouraging actions beyond health interventions and promoting holistic approaches to preventearly marriages and pregnancies. In close cooperation with Save the Children Italy and with the support of the Government of Canada, the conference gave special attention to youth empowerment initiatives and indigenous peoples' empowerment to ensure that girls grow up and are educated in a healthy and safe environment.
In the IFAD Nutrition Action Plan (2019-2025), IFAD is committed to improving the nutrition of 12 million people by 2021 and increasing the target of projects that are nutrition sensitive to 50% by 2021. This significant target moves IFAD one step closer to realizing its commitment to the Nutrition Decade and reducing poverty through nutritious foods.