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REACH was established in 2008 by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist governments of countries with a high burden of child and maternal undernutrition to accelerate the scale-up of food and nutrition actions. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) later joined REACH, extending an advisory role at the global level. REACH was originally meant to strengthen UN efforts towards ending poverty and hunger by 2015, the first of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals. Yet, its action spans beyond 2015 as hunger remains a problem, and nutrition issues will be given an even stronger emphasis after 2015.
At present, REACH operates in 12 countries at varying degrees of intensity, namely: Bangladesh, Burundi, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. REACH country engagements are led by neutral facilitators, with some facilitators hosted by government offices, such as the Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister or one of the sector ministries and others hosted by one of the UN partner agencies. Country facilitators are supported by the REACH Secretariat which is hosted by the UN World Food Programme in Rome, Italy and is led by Ms. Nancy Walters, Global Coordinator.