The announcements were made at the Commission-organised forum European Development Days (EDD) this week.
The Gates donation also unlocked another €159m in funds from the UK’s Department for International Development, which promised to match 1:2 any pledges made on top of those agreed at the 2013 Nutrition for Growth summit.
The UK government confirmed to us that it would be sticking by this commitment, although it did not give details or a time frame.
Melinda Gates said malnutrition was the underlying cause of nearly half of all deaths of children under five. “Yet for too long the world has under-invested in nutrition. Today we see an opportunity to change that. Along with the Gates Foundation, many European donors are now prioritising nutrition, which we believe will be one of the fundamental solutions to help cut child mortality in half by 2030.”
The Gates Foundation said its donation, which was a six-year commitment, would seek to improve nutrition for women before and during pregnancy and while lactating as well as improving infant nutrition more broadly through breastfeeding and food fortification.
It would also look to improve access to safe, nutritious and affordable food year-round through better food systems.
The foundation did not reply to our request for specific examples of its plans in time for the publication on this article.
The Gates new funds would be focused on India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Burkina Faso, which it said suffered from a particularly high burden of malnutrition.
A ‘data revolution’
The foundation also pledged to expand research into innovative new approaches to nutrition and serve as a catalyst for a “data revolution in nutrition” to inform decisions and track progress.
About €445,414 of their donation will go towards its tie-up with the Commission’s new initiative National Information Platforms on Nutrition (NIPN), a tool to help partner countries better monitor progress in the reduction of under-nutrition and make informed policy decisions.
This will initially be used in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos and Niger.
The UK cash would also put £6.4m towards this.
The Commission said it hoped the platform would “improve accountability and governance on nutrition”.
Commenting on the importance of nutrition in international development, Baroness Sandip Verma, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the UK department for international development, said: “This investment is in all our interests. By promoting a healthier, more productive workforce and helping these countries to grow we are not just giving millions a better chance to lift themselves out of poverty, we are also developing new markets for Britain to trade with.”