The Global Malnutrition Crisis: Warum strategisches Corporate Giving gerade jetzt für Unternehmen entscheidend ist

Während die westliche Welt ihren Fokus gezwungenermaßen auf den Krieg in der Ukraine, die gestiegenen Preise in der Heimat und zunehmenden Klimakatastrophen lenkt, trifft Afrika und Asien eine so noch nie dagewesene Welle an Hungersnöten, deren Folgen auch wir deutlich spüren werden. In einer Zeit in der Krise auf Krise folgt, sind die Spendenbeutel der Unternehmen knapp und das Interesse geteilt. Simon Bishop von The Power of Nutrition drückt auf den Alarmknopf und erklärt, warum Corporate Giving gerade jetzt für Unternehmen strategisch sinnvoll ist.

Ein Beitrag von Lukas Kolig

Lukas Kolig: What exactly is The Power of Nutrition and the foundation behind it? What is your mission?  

Simon Bishop: The Power of Nutrition is all about creating partnerships and raising money that advances the fight against malnutrition in Africa and Asia. Our vision is to ensure that every child gets the nutrition they need to fulfill their potential. For that we fundamentally do three things: First, we raise more money for nutrition. We’re trying to help plug the huge $11 billion a year gap in global nutrition funding. Second, we  get more nutrition for the money. So we put some money in ourselves as a charitable foundation. We use that to leverage money from others and then funnel that down to programs on the ground in Africa and Asia, run by wonderful organizations like UNICEF, Save the Children, World Food Program and others. The third step is to then incentivize others to give. By bringing partners together – multiple funders and multiple implementers, we’re able to run even much bigger programs to sort of defragment the market, if you like, driving efficiencies and ultimately driving greater impact.

So far, we’ve reached 115 million women, children and adolescents with better nutrition and I’m proud to say we’re on track to reach our headline target, which is to prevent 600,000 cases of stunting, by the end of this year – two years early. When we say “stunting” we are talking about children who are too short for their age because they haven’t received the right nutrition.

With your platform “The Power of Nutrition” you want to tackle the global malnutrition crisis. What crisis are we talking about exactly? What are the causes and who will it affect the most?  

We’re currently facing a global malnutrition crisis – it will cause more deaths from hunger  than  at any time since World War Two, when between ten and 15 million people died (of hunger, not bullets). The U.N. secretary general is talking about multiple famines in Africa and Asia later on this year, probably coming simultaneously and into next year. There are 50 million people already on the edge of famine, 800 million people going to bed hungry every night and the number of food insecure people has risen from 150 million in 2019 to almost 350 million this year. So more than doubled.

“And this isn’t going to be just another famine in a particular small country. This is going to be of a different scale, something we haven’t seen for more than 70 years.”

There are multiple causes of this dire situation: Climate change, COVID-19, rising costs of living and more. You can very clearly see the direct and drastic consequences the crises have had on a country like Somalia, which has had four failed rainy seasons in a row – it’s currently going into its fifth. That is clearly linked to climate change. The cost of food is going up, when 93% of Somalia’s grain are imported from Ukraine and Russia had another huge impact.

Of course, all that is impacting us here in Europe as well. And we acknowledge that. But that’s part of the challenge, because the world is experiencing so many different crises at the same time at home and abroad, there’s little capacity to even consider others. However, the point we’re trying to make is, that the impact this is going to have on the world’s poorest people is going to be of a different order. They’re going to be dying en masse.

With such a huge challenge at hand – why are we not as aware of the malnutrition crisis? Does the Western have its mind elsewhere or does its simply not care?  

It’s a very, very difficult time. Of course, we’re feeling it with the prices going up – not just energy but in the UK inflation is around 10% so our weekly shop is having a huge hit. Energy bills are rising globally. It makes you feel incredibly insecure. Having conflict on the continent of Europe for the first time in such a long period of peace too has been a huge shock – and we’re all still recovering from COVID! So there’s a huge lack of bandwidth globally. And of course, when times get tough, you do tend to retract and help people at home. And that’s, of course, the right thing to do. But I always make the case: charity may begin at home, but it absolutely shouldn’t end there.

We have a moral obligation to support people in need, particularly when the need is so much greater than our own. And if you don’t buy the moral case, then there’s the smart case too. This level of food insecurity and hunger is going to lead to massive social unrest in parts of Africa and Asia, which is going to lead to huge migration. It’s also going to, in some cases, lead to greater extremism. Hungry people become angry people very quickly. And when extremist organizations turn up with food, providing people with hope, that’s how they recruit them. From that perspective it’s enlightened self-interest as well as being morally the right thing to do.

Famine is a recurring problem in African regions. For example: In 1992 and 2010-2012 two famines left a total of 460.000 Somalians dead. Why is the world society not malnutrition efficiently? It seems like little has changed since then.  

So the first thing to say is that we’ve made extraordinary progress in this area over the last 25 years. Overall, extreme poverty has halved, which is the fastest reduction of poverty in global history. We learnt lots of lessons from these famines and actually dodged multiple onesover the last 40 years because we’ve got early warning systems in place and a stronger global food system. However, what’s happening now is this perfect storm of crises, everything is coming together at once like it has never done before. And that’s why we’re struggling to deal with it. Poor countries like Somalia, they just don’t have a hope in hell unless we come together and we really try and support and help.

In the last two years many corporations and foundations have been faced with the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, rising energy prices and the inflation. How can we bring the malnutrition crisis to their focus during such a turbulent time?   

We´re trying to do two things. One is ring the alarm bell that this crisis is coming. Because, as we’ve been talking about, people just don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to see this. Or perhaps they picked it up where they just think “oh, it’s another famine in the Yemen or whatever”. They don’t appreciate how horrific this is going to be. So we’re doing whatever we can to ring the bell, both ourselves and working with others through a campaign called Hungry for Action . The campaign is calling on global leaders to step up and commit much more to the crisis – both immediately and to secure the future of food security. The G7 committed around about 5 billion under the German presidency a couple of months ago. In reality, we need 50 billion. But that campaign is doing its best as dozens of organizations are working together to raise awareness.

“50 billion is obviously a lot of money. But it is possible to find that kind of money with the right leadership. It´s absolutely there in the system.”

The second thing is to get support down to the most vulnerable families as quickly as possible and to raise money in order to do that. We’ve launched a Global Malnutrition Crisis Appeal to help us achieve this. Through our wonderful partners we have 19 nutrition programs in 15 countries. And we’re able to increase or expand those programs within weeks, say, for example, with cash transfers. These are small amounts of money, maybe $20 or $40 that go each month on mobile phones to the most vulnerable individual households like those in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Malawi. We can turn those up to $40, $50 or $60 very, very quickly. And that will help them get through their own cost of living crisis.

  • Globale Konflikte, der damit verbundene Preisanstieg und die Auswirkungen des Klimawandels erschüttern das Lebensmittelsystem. Die Welt schlittert schlafwandlerisch in eine Nahrungsmittel- und Unterernährungskrise. 50 Millionen Menschen sind bereits von einer Hungersnot bedroht und diese Zahl steigt weiter. Mit dem Global Malnutrition Crisis Appeal leistet The Power of Nutrition, gemeinsam mit Partnern wie UNICEF und Save the Children, einen bedeutenden Beitrag, um das zu verhindern. Dabei wird jede Spende automatisch verdoppelt und rettet Leben.      Jetzt mehr erfahren.

How would you address those companies or foundations that already donated a lot during the last two years? Why should they consider donating more now?

To those companies and foundations, I´d still always make the moral case but would also very clearly say: “You are also doing this for yourselves.” Because this is nothing else than an investment. And an urgent one as well. Just think of it like this: it will also affect your organization if you can´t sell anymore products in foreign markets or if the migration crisis, which will be a result of this, is challenging us here back home.

From a consumer perspective, it is already incredibly relevant to just address this. Their customers will be impacted by this and react positively on the fact that the companies are indeed tackling this – so it has  PR benefits. Regarding the business perspective, it might be even more relevant. A part of their workforce, and their families, will be going hungry and therefore also be less productive. There is already a huge amount of evidence around why the private sector and companies should do more to tackle stunting. Just to bring in some numbers: due to stunting, the private sector loses more than a quarter of a trillion dollars each year (up to $264.6 billion).

“Their workers, their consumers … they are all going to feel this. Stunted workforces are 20% less productive. If corporations focus on this, in time that will lead to greater profit for them.”

If companies actually focused on this issue more, if they worked with governments, with civil societies and others to bring the stunting rates down in time, it will lead to greater profits for them, lead to greater tax revenues and economic growth and ultimately help countries to escape poverty.

Finally, there is also this great thing about the way our foundation works. Anything we raise through our appeal will be doubled straight away, and sometimes we can actually time it by four when our implementing partners also match the donations. So this is where we want to motivate corporations and foundations to give, knowing that they’ll double their money at least straightaway. How does this work? Well, like any charitable foundation, we have backers, donors who provide money to help us motivate more giving. We have a range of donors that have come together and are willing to put money up for this crisis, but only if you double it. So that’s why we’re out there trying to raise this match funding.

What ways are there for corporations and foundations to support the “Global Malnutrition Appeal”? If you could give them three things to do within the last three months of this year. What would that be?  

Good question. So, the first thing to do would be to put pressure on global political leaders to act. As I said, only 5 billion from the G7, which, in grand scheme of those economies, is nowhere near enough. So pressure on political leaders to make sure they address this issue appropriately, to be much more ambitious and to act now. The second thing is to act themselves. To use whatever they can to raise awareness amongst their consumers, customers and workers. We have to ring the alarm bell on this! Last but not least: help us raise money. Whether that be through donating themselves, their foundation’s employee giving and or through their customer or client base.

The Power of Nutrition: So kann ihr Unternehmen helfen

The Power of Nutrition ist eine innovative Finanzierungs- und Partnerschaftsplattform, die sich für eine Welt einsetzt, in der jedes Kind die richtige Ernährung erhält, um sein volles Potenzial auszuschöpfen. Das erreicht The Power of Nutrition durch die Beschaffung von Geldern und den Aufbau von Partnerschaften, um den Kampf gegen Mangelernährung in Afrika und Asien voranzutreiben.

Simon Bishop, CEO von The Power of Nutrition, ist leidenschaftlicher Verfechter der Beseitigung extremer Armut und verfügt über mehr als 25 Jahre Erfahrung in der internationalen Entwicklung, unter anderem als stellvertretender Geschäftsführer der globalen Kinderhilfsorganisation Plan International UK und als Sonderberater des britischen Staatssekretärs für internationale Entwicklung.
Pipeline health Centre in Monrovia where children from 6-24 month are receiving micronutrient powder; Credits: ⓒUNICEF Liberia/2021/M.Omar