A fruit stand in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo credit: Persnickety Prints/Unsplash

Malnutrition remains a pressing issue among children, women of reproductive age, and adolescents in many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Approximately 149 million children under the age of five are stunted, while 45 million suffer from wasting. Additionally, over a billion adolescent girls and women of reproductive age experience undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and anemia. Addressing this challenge requires innovative approaches. It is through innovation that the development community can create new, effective methods to prevent and treat malnutrition.

This morning, URC and Mercy Corps convened an online symposium, with opening remarks delivered by URC President Earl W. Gast. The symposium brought together thought leaders to discuss the power of innovation in combating malnutrition. The topics covered ranged from the development of biofortified staple foods, the role of the private sector, localization, gender integration, to the utilization of mobile technology and artificial intelligence.

Participants included:


  • Earl W. Gast, President, URC
  • Swathi Massar, Vice President of Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion and Localization, Mercy Corps


  • Dr. Farah Naureen, Deputy Regional Director – Asia, Mercy Corps
  • Dr. Patricia O’Connor, Senior Technical Advisor, Innovations and Solutions Development, URC


  • Dr. Shivangi Kaushik, Head of Project, Digital Innovations for Zero Hunger, Welthungerhilfe
  • Dr. Kerri Wazny, EME Manager – Nutrition, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
  • Jana Daher, Project Manager Research & Innovation and SMART+ Global Lead, Action Against Hunger