The current system for funding initiatives to address global malnutrition is deeply flawed. Characterized by time constraints, inflexibility, and lack of imagination, current funding models hamper the vital efforts of nonprofit organizations striving to improve the health of children. Right now, there are 193 million children under the age of five who are impacted by stunting or wasting worldwide. This demands a radical new approach to funding and support.

Advocates have long called for comprehensive funding to treat childhood malnutrition, a longstanding crisis that has been historically neglected. While institutional donors have finally responded with substantial commitments, existing funding structures remain slow and highly restricted.

When a crisis hits, nonprofits have no choice but to wait for funding to become available to treat malnourished children, many of whom are too sick to wait. Sometimes, the money never comes. And when it does, it is often only enough for a year, and the crisis is then exacerbated by the scramble for more money, shifting donor priorities, and the evolving nature of emergency situations.

The problem with traditional funding models is systemic, one beset by government and institutional bureaucracies. However, private funders have the unique opportunity to support real, lasting progress by easing grant requirements and replacing highly restricted funds with responsive funding.

With a less prescriptive approach, nonprofits gain the autonomy to use resources where they are most needed, and crises are addressed more efficiently and effectively. When funding is flexible and distributed over multiple years, nonprofits can create better forecasts for longer-term interventions. This creates sustainable, cost-effective, and impactful programming designed to meet immediate and potential needs.

Last year, the CRI Foundation and ALIMA designed something better than the traditional funding model: a three-year initiative called the Africa Malnutrition Fund. This multi-year fund will provide nearly $10 million to address malnutrition—particularly among children—across Chad, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria. These countries are experiencing some of the world’s highest levels of child wasting.

After working closely together to address critical gaps in institutional funding for malnutrition over the past year, CRI and ALIMA decided to tackle the funding conundrum collaboratively and comprehensively. The Africa Malnutrition Fund is rooted in open communication, transparency, and the shared understanding—between donor and nonprofit—that funding for malnutrition needs to be both nimble and reliable.

Read the full article about tackling global malnutrition by Moumouni Kinda and Kara Weiss at Alliance Magazine.