Despite significant economic growth in their countries over the last decade, 64 million South Asian children are stunted. South Asian nations must invest in large-scale, evidence-based programmes for the prevention of stunting with priority emphasis on the most vulnerable children and women.
South Asian countries have endorsed the global target to reduce the number of stunted children by 40 percent by 2025. The cost of reaching this global target is about US$5 billion per year over the next 10 years in addition to current investments.
In other words, an additional investment of US$9.2 per child under five per year over the next 10 years will translate into 65 million fewer children stunted in 2025 and 2.8 million child deaths averted.
South Asian countries can afford to stop stunting and cannot afford the cost of inaction. Stopping stunting is an investment that ‘locks in the potential’ with benefits that far exceed the cost. Studies estimate that every US$1 invested in nutrition generates US$18 in economic returns.