About the Day – 2021

2021 - Stand Up to Stunting

Last year, 149 million children under the age of five were stunted. Of these children, more than half live in Asia and a further 40% live in Africa. Some areas are worse affected than others. In South Asia and in Western Africa, 32% and 29% of children under five are stunted respectively.

Some children are left behind, even before they are born. The first 1,000 days – from conception to a child’s second birthday – provide the foundations for lifelong health and development. During this time, pregnant women and young children who have access to optimal nutrition are more likely to grow and develop as they should, reach their full potential in school and are equipped to earn a decent living later in life.

When children do not have access to optimal nutrition, they are at risk of not growing adequately and may be too short for their age. This is known as stunting, a condition that is detrimental to the life and prospects of the children it affects. Stunting is irreversible and will affect those children into adolescence and adulthood. They are stunted for life. The World Health Assembly calls stunting "one of the most significant impediments to human development".

Children who are stunted may never reach their full potential. They are at risk of not doing as well in school and have a lower chance of earning a good living when they reach adulthood. If we do not find a way to end stunting, children are likely to be born into the vicious cycle of poverty and malnourishment.

Stunting needs to end. We owe it to all children because every child deserves a fair chance in life. Stunting impairs growth and keeps children from reaching their full potential. By standing up to stunting, all children may get a spot on the same starting line in life.

We owe it to the families because stunting and poverty create a vicious cycle that families are stuck in for generation after generation. Breaking the cycle of stunting is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Finally, we owe it to societies. Nourishing children helps to nourish economic growth.

Children who are stunted may never be able to reach their full potential and contribute entirely to the economy of their country. A well-nourished population will be able to lead the growth and change of the country.

A world where no child is held back by malnutrition is possible.


Action Against Stunting Day

That is why we are introducing Action Against Stunting Day on 8 September 2021. This day will promote interventions that will help raise awareness about stunting and give children the building blocks they need for a brighter future.

There are global targets in place to reduce stunting, but current efforts are failing, and the goals are unlikely to be met. Instead, constraints in accessing nutritious diets and essential nutrition services during the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to lead to a substantial increase in children who are stunted. The full indirect impact of the pandemic on stunting will possibly take years to manifest itself.

Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. That is why the first Action Against Stunting Day aspires to 1) raise awareness about stunting and the effects it has on people and communities, 2) deliver the latest-evidence based approaches to malnutrition and 3) launch a set of commitments among change agents around the world, specifically in the worst affected countries.

Join us on 8 September as we bring together policymakers, donors and academics in our inaugural Action Against Stunting Day event. Together, these key actors can commit to promoting research and interventions to reduce stunting by 2025.

Vision of Success

Within the broader goal of accelerating malnutrition alleviation, the Action Against Stunting Day aims to:

  1. Serve as a moment for change: to define new commitments and actions to get the global goals back on track.
  2. Promote a global dialogue about SDG2 and support global advocacy efforts.
  3. Identify new priorities and define a shared vision that will constitute the basis of the action to reduce stunting.
  4. Foster a sense of community by bringing together key actors and new generations.