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Taoiseach Enda Kenny addresses Nutrition for Growth conference in London

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today addressed the Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Science conference in London.

The Taoiseach spoke of the memory of the Irish Famine :

In a world that has never been as connected, it is surely to our shame that the issues of hunger, malnutrition and stunting remain recalcitrant.

I say this as leader of a country where famine and hunger run deep in our psyche.

In the 1840s we ate grass to fill our stomachs – with our children we lay down to die in graveyards – to be assured a Christian burial.

It is this generational memory that sees an Irishman or Irishwoman at emergency stations, clinics, agriculture projects, community groups and schools across the developing world.

That memory is also national, institutional.

The Taoiseach said that tackling malnutriton not only makes moral sense but also makes economic sense:

Tackling malnutrition and the devastation it brings to millions is not only morally right it makes sound economic sense.

We know that every year 11% of GDP in Africa and Asia is lost to under-nutrition.

We know to that every dollar spent on specific nutrition-programmes can give a return of up to $15.

We have, within our reach proven, affordable solutions to build a stronger, healthier population with the skills to drive economic-growth and social-development.

It is essential that we make these investments in nutrition now.

The Taoiseach committed to doubling Ireland's contribution to combatting under nutrition by 2020:

I want to endorse wholeheartedly the Nutrition for Growth Compact which is before us this morning.

Equally, I pledge here that Ireland will double its nutrition efforts over the next eight years.

This means doubling of Ireland’s spend on nutrition by 2020.

We will do this through practical and real partnership with countries that have high burdens of under-nutrition.

We will align our support with their needs.

Read the full speech here.