Skip to main content

Make children the real winners of London 2012

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Development Debates, Nutrition

The eve of the London 2012 Olympics is finally here. For the next two weeks we will all be cheering on Team GB, hoping our athletes will realise the Olympic dreams they have trained so hard for.

But I hope they will not be the only winners of these Olympic Games. I hope the 180 million children who are currently suffering from the hidden hunger crisis - known as stunting - will be able to steal some of the limelight too.

Stunting occurs when children don't get the right nutrients in the first 1000 days of life and is the silent crisis crippling the potential of millions of children. It stops a child developing mentally and physically. It stops them from achieving their full potential and from growing up to achieve their dreams. The damage is irreversible. Once inflicted, there is no cure.

Everyone has seen images of starving children on their TV screens and it is painful to watch. I have seen the effects myself during a trip to Sierra Leone with UNICEF four years ago. The faces of the acutely malnourished children I met there were so frail and thin that I don't think the imprint of their images will ever leave me.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham meets two-day-old Mariatsu in Sierra Leone. Picture: UNICEF/David Turnley

As a proud dad I can't imagine what it must be like as a parent to see your child suffer in this way. But that is the harsh reality right now for the hundreds of thousands of children living across East and West Africa who are in the grip of a slow burning hunger crisis that has been unfolding for years. Their prospects are bleak.

I have been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF for seven years and I am incredibly proud of the work they do to save and protect children's lives. As a global leader on child nutrition they are helping children and their families living in many of the world's poorest communities, to improve the nutritional value of their food so that they can keep their children healthy.

But they cannot do this alone. Tackling the issue of stunting is huge and challenging but not insurmountable if our government continue to play their part.

So today I paid a visit to the Prime Minister David Cameron to ask him to help change this. To welcome his leadership and urge him to continue to help reduce the number of children suffering. I called on him to put child hunger and stunting at the top of the political agenda, starting with the Global Nutrition Event he will chair on the 12 August, the eve of the Olympic closing ceremony and continuing into 2013 when the UK hosts the G8.

I was not making my point alone. The letter I delivered to David Cameron was co-signed by over 50 fellow global UNICEF Ambassadors, supporters and stars from the world of sport and entertainment who all wanted to use their name to speak up for some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Ewan McGregor, Vanessa Redgrave, Liam Neeson, Robbie Williams, Claudia Schiffer, Whoopi Goldberg, to name but a few. The list goes on and on and on. And I am asking you, to add your name too.

The Olympics is all about people achieving their personal best and reaching their full potential in life. Lets make this Olympics the time to ensure that all children can too. In the lead up to the Global Nutrition Event on August 12, UNICEF, alongside other organisations, is calling for urgent action on child hunger and stunting.

Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DFID or have the support of the British Government.

This blog is featured on Huffington Post UK.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog posted on

    I think the work that UNICEF do is amazing and I am delighted as a British sports fan to see David Beckham involved with this work.

    I beleive the plight of Africa is still ignored too much these days, I once heard a report in which the reporter said Africa is 7 miles from Europe, when I heard that fact I couldn't help but think that for such a small distance in miles there is such a hugh difference between the upbringing of a child in Europe and a child in Africa.

    It is criminal that such things are still allowed to happen in this day and age. We can all do our bit, and no matter how small I would imagine it all must help. Spreading the word is also important and I've now added a link to UNICEF from the front page of my own website, I am more than happy to do my bit to help try and spread the word of this awful situation in the hope that something can be done about it.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Comment by Eusebio Manuel Vestias Pecurto posted on

    Um dos valores da paz e da solidaridade entre os povos obrigado Sir David Beckham

  3. Comment by Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog posted on

    Only a matter of time Eusebio, although I think there may be a backlog this year with the Olympics.

    But it will definitely happen soon.

  4. Comment by eusebio manuel vestias pecurto posted on

    Esperamos que os lideres politicos do grupo G8 tenham soluções e que dão resposta aos problemas dos povos menos desenvolvidos pelos jogos olimpicos e a força da transformmação da paz e da solidaridade entre os povos

  5. Comment by David Evans posted on

    Well done David, I didn't know that you had visited Mr. Cameron to tell him your views until now. Good work for visiting Sierra Leone and raising awareness on this issue. I'm sure there are lots of people who are unaware about this, hopefully more will know now. Lets hope that our UK government will listen to you and your co-signatories. Keep up the good work!

  6. Comment by posted on

    Os lideres mundiais devem desenvolver projectos sociais para as comunidades das regiões mais pobres do planeta