Improving the nutrition of vulnerable populations: roadmap for France’s international action 2016-2020


Every year more than 3.1 million children under age 5 worldwide die from malnutrition-related causes. Malnourished children are more susceptible to illness and experience more learning difficulties.

Some 159 million children under age 5 are stunted. Malnutrition, which compromises the physical and cognitive development of children, has a lasting effect on young generations. In some geographic areas, undernutrition is chronic. This is the case of sub-Saharan Africa, which has recorded alarming rates of acute (wasting) and chronic (stunting) malnutrition.The social and economic cost of malnutrition weighs on societies and hinders their development.

Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development includes a goal to tackle this problem and a target to eradicate all forms of malnutrition. The situation is complex. It has arisen from many causes including poverty, food insecurity, insufficient care, poor hygiene and inadequate healthcare services. The response therefore should cover many sectors and enable access for all to basic services (health, safe drinking water and sanitation, healthful and varied food) in a stable and peaceful political environment.

France is engaged in the fight against malnutrition both at international and European levels, and through its nutrition actions. In 2016, a multi-sector roadmap on nutrition was developed to identify concrete areas of action to address the priority of nutrition set out in the act on France’s strategy for development and international solidarity. It was drafted in collaboration with French stakeholders in this sector working in a sub-group within the Interministerial Group on Food Security (GISA), a multi-stakeholder and multi-sector platform on food security and nutrition.

It pursues five strategic areas of action:

  • Integrating nutrition into programmes implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and its agencies working in target countries;
  • Helping target countries to address nutrition in policies;
  • Increasing international and European mobilization for nutrition;
  • Contributing to research and improving knowledge about nutrition (causes, impacts and solutions);
  • Helping to educate and raise awareness about nutrition.

The roadmap focuses on eight countries that are severely affected by malnutrition and vulnerable to climate change effects: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, and Niger.

The countries chosen have all joined the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and in doing so, have undertaken to develop a national multi-sector plan of action for nutrition. France also supports the participation of Francophone countries in the SUN Movement.