The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an independent non-profit foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland. GAIN was developed at the UN 2002 Special Session of the General Assembly on Children.
Vision and mission
GAIN is an organization driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition. To achieve its goal, GAIN mobilises public-private partnerships and provides financial and technical support to deliver nutritious foods to those people most at risk of malnutrition. It is an example of multistakeholder governance.
GAIN works with diverse partners – governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and businesses worldwide. As of 2015, GAIN reached an estimated 900 million people including 330 million women, adolescent girls and children 6–59 months: 51% of these were in Africa, 44% in Asia and 5% in the rest of the world.
GAIN's collective impact approach in the nutrition sector has been recognised by the Stanford Social Innovation Review as a model of collaboration that achieves large scale progress in the face of the urgent and complex problems of our time. The Harvard Business Review has also recognized GAIN's innovation in pushing businesses to develop nutritious food products for the base of the pyramid.
GAIN supports market-based nutrition solutions in nutrition interventions areas including: large scale food fortification; maternal, infant and young child nutrition; and agriculture and nutrition.
- Large Scale Food Fortification. Fortification of staple foods and condiments is a proven, cost-effective and simple nutrition intervention to tackle micronutrient malnutrition, or the lack of the essential micronutrients people need to grow and live healthy lives. GAIN works with governments to fortify everyday staple foods and condiments such as flour, salt and oil with vitamins and minerals, like iron, vitamin A, iodine and folic acid, that help prevent disease and encourage good health.
- Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition. GAIN works to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and stunting, by focusing on the first 1,000 days, from conception to 24 months, and supporting improved complementary feeding practices – within the context of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding to two years of age and beyond. The program in 2014-15 reached over 580,000 women and children, with a cumulative reach since its inception of over 19 million.
- Agriculture and Nutrition. GAIN uses the agriculture value chain to identify opportunities for nutrition intervention at each stage – from food production to storage, processing to distribution, retail, marketing and food preparation. The marketplace is seen as a pivotal entry point for improving dietary diversity.
- Business Partnerships and Alliances. GAIN tries to build stakeholder partnerships with governments, civil society and the private sector. The work with businesses take place at the global level and at the local level. In developing countries, GAIN works with the small and medium-sized enterprises that play a crucial role in the local food systems.
- Monitoring Learning and Research. Through this unit, the organization seeks to strengthen the impact of its programs through better design and implementation, based on the review, generation, translation, and use of evidence for decision making. The unit also identifies and addresses priority evidence gaps related to programming areas, with the ultimate goal of informing GAIN's strategy, supporting advocacy and contributing to the global evidence base.
GAIN's program portfolio is based on proven and cost-effective approaches. Programs support large-scale food fortification, multi-nutrient supplements, nutritious foods for mothers and children, and enhancement of the nutritional content of agriculture products.
More nutritious staple foods for populations at large
GAIN's Large Scale Food Fortification Program aims to increase sustainable consumption of staple foods and condiments fortified with essential vitamins and minerals among populations at large in target countries. Key goals include increasing coverage of key micronutrients (vitamin A, iodine, iron, zinc, folic acid) to more than 500 million women and children and reduction of key deficiencies by 20–30 percent. Projects fortify staple foods and condiments including vegetable oil, maize meal, rice, wheat flour, salt, sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce – relying on business to fortify products and governments to establish appropriate legislation and regulation. The program supports innovative ways of reaching the hard to reach through market-based channels and public distribution.
Good nutrition for mothers and children
GAIN's efforts in this area support in-country production and distribution of high-quality, affordable, low-cost fortified foods for young children which complement breast milk, and development and improved access to nutritious foods for pregnant and breastfeeding women. The focus is placed in particular on the development of adequate delivery models to ensure access to, and demand for and use of, products by target populations.
Agriculture and nutrition
Supporting the production, processing and use of more nutritious agricultural crops and enhancing the quality of staple foods (through improved seeds, fertilizers and milling and storage practices) are two strategies for bringing better nutrition to vulnerable populations in a sustainable way. Taken together these efforts can also increase effective yields for poor farmers and improve their health and livelihoods.
Ensuring that the food system works to improve nutritional value means more than simply increasing production and making sure there is enough food to feed the world's population. Nutritional quality needs to become a measurable objective in agricultural programs, and embedded within the pillars of food security. Strategies for integrating health, nutrition and agriculture are reflected in the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, and are gaining momentum both nationally and in global thinking.
Building a global nutrition movement
A critical component of GAIN's efforts has been positioning nutrition as central to the global health and development platform, as poor nutrition is clearly an impediment for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. GAIN supports enhanced advocacy efforts at the national, regional and international levels, to enhance the policy environment to reach scale, raise the profile of nutrition and ultimately increase human and financial resources to address malnutrition.
In 2011, as part of its expanded advocacy program, GAIN launched Future Fortified, a global campaign to improve the nutrition of mothers and children through support for GAIN programs and related global nutrition advocacy efforts.
GAIN is also a strong supporter of Scaling Up Nutrition , together with the World Food Programme, is a co-convener of the SUN Business Network. GAIN joined with partners to establish the 1,000 Days Partnership and supports the implementation of its programs.
Building public and private partnerships
Market-based approaches to nutrition are an essential part of the way GAIN does business. Over 90 percent of food and beverages in the developed world, and increasingly in emerging markets too, are produced or delivered by the private sector. GAIN engages with the private sector to improve efficiency and effectiveness of markets.
The SUN Business Network (SBN) co-convened by GAIN and the UN World Food Programme – is one of the four global networks that support SUN countries – along with UN, Civil Society and Donor Networks. The SBN was established to bring business together behind the SUN Movement and its aim to ensure that all people realise their right to good food and nutrition. In 2015,the SBN surpassed its target of 99 companies, with 160 now making public commitments to improving nutrition, and tracking their progress annually. These commitments range from increasing reach in broadcasting mobile phone nutrition messages, all the way to providing 60 million people each year with fortified staple foods. In total, commitments from member companies amount to reaching 125 million consumers every year by 2020. The SBN is now supporting ten SUN countries to develop national platforms and strategies to engage business in country-led national nutrition strategies.
The Amsterdam Initiative against Malnutrition (AIM) is a coalition of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Unilever, DSM, AkzoNobel, Wageningen University, ICCO and GAIN that aims to work with others to end malnutrition in Africa by 2015 through initially targeting six countries: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and Mozambique. In Kenya, AIM has initiated a milk fortification project and a market study to get insight into consumer attitudes towards fortified milk. AIM partners have also identified distribution channels for nutritious foods that reach base of the pyramid populations, including safe water kiosks, milk bars, and school feeding programs. The initiative also began supporting the Kenya Nutritionists and Dieticians Institute, to create demand for nutrition through strengthening capacity development, policy and advocacy, and public engagement. Going forward, AIM will increase focus on market insight and BOP consumer aspirations to ensure nutritious products are not only accessible and affordable, but also in high demand.
The GAIN Nordic Partnership is a multi-sector platform with an ambition to facilitate scalable and inclusive business models that enhance the nutritional value of food in developing countries. It was established in 2014 by the five founding partners: Arla Foods Ingredients, Tetra Pak, DanChurchAid, the Confederation of Danish Industry and GAIN. The platform brings together Nordic companies, civil society, academia and the public sector in a forum for collaboration, action and knowledge sharing. Together, we co-create solutions that address undernutrition but at the same time are affordable, tasty and attractive for low income consumers living on a budget of a few dollars a day. The first focus area of the GAIN Nordic Partnership is the development of sustainable initiatives along the dairy value chain in Ethiopia and East Africa. The goal is to reach low-income consumers with an income of US$2 to US$5 a day.
The Access to Nutrition Index, which started in 2009, tracks how well the food and beverage industry provides nutritious products to consumers. The methodology was developed by GAIN, and is jointly funded by GAIN, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust. The index aims to increase consumers' access to more nutritious products and ultimately contribute to addressing the serious global problems of both undernutrition and obesity. It will allow food and beverage companies to benchmark their performance on nutrition against their peers, and it will serve as a platform that provides stakeholders – from investors to consumers and policymakers – with information that they can use to inform their decisions and their programs. The index also seeks to promote nutrition as an investible theme within the investment community.
Where GAIN works
GAIN currently employs 120+ professionals in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, who work on various projects in more than 30 countries. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. GAIN has country offices in Abuja (Nigeria), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) Dhaka (Bangladesh), Islamabad (Pakistan), Jakarta (Indonesia), Kabul (Afghanistan), Maputo (Mozambique), Nairobi (Kenya), New Delhi (India).
GAIN has representative offices in London (United Kingdom), Ottawa (Canada), Utrecht (The Netherlands) and Washington, D.C. (USA).
Funding and expenses
GAIN receives funding from a number of organizations including: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the Department for International Development (DFID), Agence Française du Développement (AFD), GiveWell, Good Ventures, Goldsmith Foundation, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada (DFATD), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands, the GSM Association (GSMA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Irish Aid, the Karl Pedersen og Hustrus Industrifond, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
GAIN's total expenditure during FY2014–2015 (prior to grant accounting adjustments) was US$53,134,922.
GAIN's Board of Directors is GAIN's decision making body, which provides overall strategy and direction. The Chair of the GAIN Board is Vinita Bali. The Vice Chair of the Board of Directors is Joachim von Braun, Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and Professor for Economic and Technological Change at the University of Bonn, Germany.
Other Board members include:
- Dr. Kaosar Afsana, Director of the Health, Nutrition and Population Programme, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Shawn K. Baker, Director, Nutrition, Global Development Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, United States
- Michael Anderson, CEO, MedAccess, London, United Kingdom
- Stanley Zlotkin, Chief, Global Child Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada
- Michele Costafrolaz, Chair of the GAIN Finance and Audit Committee. Managing Partner at MCT Audit & Advisory SA, Geneva, Switzerland
- Omar Dary, Senior Nutrition Advisor, United States Agency for International Development USAID Washington, D.C., United States
- Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Geneva, Switzerland
- GAIN 2014-2015 Annual Report. January 2016, accessible here