If, When and Whom to Marry: Young Women Choosing Their Best Future of Health

28796175381_0b954aa4ae_zIt is perhaps easy to envision what should constitute quality health care for all people. What about choice in what quality health care means per person, according to what one wants for their lives?

When a person reaches the age of adolescence, they become more aware of how their surroundings and choices affect their future. When that adolescent is entrenched in a patriarchal society, the set expectations for their future more so affects their current life and health. Examples include teen pregnancy as a result of early and child marriage, lack of access to age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health education, and young women dropping out of school.

The Hunger Project is working in Africa and South Asia to shift these patriarchal mindsets and empower youth – both young women and men – to make decisions about their health and future through the Her Choice Program.

Through a community-based mentoring approach, including peer mentors, the program mobilizes relevant community actors to build local ownership over ending child-marriage. Activities aim to foster empowerment among girls and young women to take control of decision-making, and sensitize the community to value such.

Girls and communities become increasingly aware of the negative [health] consequences of early, child and forced marriage, which allows girls and young women to better participate in society and apply newly gained knowledge from sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) into their life choices. “If, when and whom” to marry is the primary choice in focus.

Early, child and forced marriage pervades the cycle of poverty, especially for young women: dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, limited or no household decision making capacity, poor health of young mothers and newborns, lack of decisions around one’s sexual and reproductive preferences, and stagnated economic empowerment and income generation among women. The program aims to improve access to formal education for girls by supporting girl-friendly schools and access to youth-friendly SRHR services.

035Relevant community actors are key in helping shift the patriarchal social norms to ensure an enabling environment wherein girls can make their own life choices. Women’s “self-help” groups carry out trainings and education about financial services to improve economic security of girls and their families. This helps to decrease incentive for marrying off daughters and increase women’s independent economic empowerment. Relevant community actors also include traditional leaders and supportive groups of men of all ages to help transform social and traditional norms toward inclusion of women and girls in decision-making. Traditional leaders are especially crucial in helping enforce national policies around child marriage, in not approving or overseeing child marriages in their respective communities.

By imbedding youth-friendly SRHR leadership and program activities into communities, Her Choice is influencing sustainable results. They can continue building on local assets and train additional young leaders to continue fostering women’s choice in marriage.

Do you want to marry? If so, when would you want to marry? And to what kind of person would you like to be married? Do you want to finish school before you consider marriage? Do you want to finish school and pursue work more than you want to be married? The choices – at least in some way – affect health and economic security.

There are many ways we can degrade, stabilize or improve our own health. Everyday habits like washing your hands, drinking clean water, eating healthily, to more long-term choices like getting vaccinated. Young women have a right to choose their future of health, and that right includes choosing “if, when and whom” they should marry.

 

 

Proposed Federal Budget 2018 Fails to Defend the World’s Most Vulnerable Persons

 

Lobby Day Feat Image

On June 13, three of The Hunger Project’s DC team members joined over 500 people to meet with congressmen and women on issues of hunger and poverty as part of Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day. Lobby Day brings together NGOs, church groups, and individuals from all over the US to spend a day advocating on The Hill in Washington, D.C.for anti-hunger and poverty legislation. With the proposed 2018  federal budget – which includes cuts to health care and food assistance programs – this year’s Lobby Day was especially important in making heard the voices of those whose human rights could be most compromised. 

Participants in Lobby Day made three important requests in the fight to end suffering:  

1. Oppose any budget cuts that would increase hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

In the United States, 1 in 8 families are food insecure and 1 in 6 children are at risk of living in hunger. Around the world, 800 million people are hungry and nearly 20 million people are facing starvation as a result of the famines in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.

Federal budget allocations for nutrition are investments that will have economic benefits for our society. Representative Dan Donovan recently wrote an op-ed article about why cutting foreign aid is a mistake:

“In 2015 alone, 18 million children under five improved their nutritional intake thanks to support from U.S. programs. Children who get the right nutrition early are 10-times more  likely to overcome life-threatening childhood diseases. They are also more likely to achieve higher levels of education. Growing evidence also suggests a strong positive correlation between nutrition and lifetime earnings. Think of the impact — for every dollar invested in nutrition, we see a $16 return. If that’s not a smart, worthwhile investment, I don’t know what is.”

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Image courtesy of Bread for the World.

Donovan also argues the moral benefits of foreign aid, including US leadership toward a decrease in maternal and child mortality:

“…because of the U.S. commitment to reducing the child mortality rate, an estimated 100 million children have been saved since 1990. Additionally, maternal mortality rates have dropped 44 percent. Our support for measles and polio eradication efforts have rapidly reduced child deaths in even the most remote corners of the planet.”

We asked our congressmen and women to oppose these cuts, and instead support US leadership toward improved development that will not only save lives, but also improve livelihoods, and therefore mitigate migration and the security threat of recruiting extremist terrorists.

2. Fully fund domestic safety-net and international development programs that end hunger and poverty.

Foreign assistance is the soft power that binds US alliances and promotes global stability through decreased hunger and poverty. At less than 1% of the federal budget, international aid costs the United States a fraction of the cost of military interventions – which are typically short-term, inefficient and unsustainable.

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Image courtesy of Oxfam.

Domestic safety nets, such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), Medicaid, refundable tax credits, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) nutrition program, and summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) also risk major budget cuts. Basic provisions provided by these programs allow families to prevent hunger while getting “back on their feet” and breaking out of the cycle of poverty. In an effort to bolster the US economy, Congress must fully fund safety-net programs that eliminate hunger and poverty amongst Americans.

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Image courtesy of Bread for the World.

3. Oppose harmful structural changes to SNAP, Medicaid, and international development assistance.

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TANF: A block grant study. Image Courtesy of Bread for the World.

Congress has proposed structural changes such as block grants and per capita caps that shift the cost of domestic safety-net programs to states. This allows states to determine how much funding to provide to those eligible for SNAP, Medicaid, and refundable tax credits. As a result, the most vulnerable people may not receive the proper amount of life-saving assistance they need. We insisted that Congress oppose these structural changes and stand up for our fellow citizens in dire need.

“By slashing our foreign aid budget, we risk undoing 30 years of remarkable progress.” – Rep. Dan Donovan

After Lobby Day

You do not need to go to The Hill in D.C. to seek congressional support in opposing the proposed cuts to the FY18 federal budget. Phone calls, letters, and emails make a powerful impression on your senators and representatives. Hearing from organizations, congregations, and constituents  will influence the way our elected congressmen and women vote. Your voice can help end hunger and poverty.

For more information on how to contact your senator or representative, please visit the following websites.

What to say to your congress men and women: http://bread.org/sites/default/files/virtual-lobby-day-call-script-june-2017.pdf?_ga=2.188894315.1365439319.1497472412-1786586522.1487878423

Find your representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Find your senators: https://www.senate.gov/reference/common/faq/How_to_correspond_senators.htm

 

Featured image courtesy of EURACTIV.

PNPM Progress: A Path Towards Sustainability in Indonesia

Indonesia’s Program Nasional Pemberdayaan Mandiri (PNPM), or National Program for Community Empowerment, is a government-led, multi-donor trust-funded pilot program, which is managed by the World Bank Group (WBG) and delivered through the PNPM Support Facility (PSF). Also funded by: AusAid, CIDA, DANIDA, USAID, EU, UKAID, and the Dutch Government 

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Photo Credit: World Bank, PNPM (Peduli) Indonesia: Caring for the Invisible

 As the Government of Indonesia’s flagship community-driven development (CDD) program, PNPM strives to improve the socio-economic welfare of the poor and most marginalized groups by expanding opportunities through community consultation at all phases of the program, empowerment, and capacity building of civil society organizations (CSO). The key elements of PNPM-CDD programs include: community development, institution building, community block grants, strengthening local governance and partnerships, and technical assistance for program development

In working with numerous Indonesian and local CSOs and a handful of implementing partners, PNPM programs are currently active in roughly 6,000 sub-districts, 73,000 villages, and 33 provinces. Nearly Rp1.4 billion, which roughly equates to USD 21 million, is allocated to each village per year solely for development purposes. In the first year, PNPM programs helped nearly 12,000 marginalized individuals to build confidence, gain new livelihood skills and training, access information and public services, and to create new opportunities to participate in community life.

However, addressing the root drivers of social inclusion are not just about improving economic conditions, but about fully integrating individuals into every nook and cranny of civic life—increasing participation and breaking down social barriers by changing mindsets and reversing engrained stigmas. The Government of Indonesia realizes the marginalized are important and unappreciated assets (financial, labor, social), and often benefit less from public programs and poverty reduction schemes.

In this manner, local and national CSOs have a comparative advantage and are well positioned to empower marginalized groups to become more self-reliant and able to live dignified lives. CSOs work with a diverse range of marginalized groups in rural and urban Indonesia: female micro-entrepreneurs, street children, LGBTQ, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and people living with HIV/AIDS among others. Though CSOs have a limited financial capacity to provide services and activities such as mentoring and training, the PNPM has established grant making to mitigate the costs.

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Photo Credit: Source Unknown, PNPM Program Indonesia

PNPM programs have provided women, specifically, with business training and equipment, skills training, and loan arrangements to start businesses. As a result, women’s groups are now running laundries, phone card counters, food production, and coffee shops, for example. However, CDD programs in Indonesia could benefit from a thorough gender analysis needs assessment to identify which constraints women face particularly in a rural environment. Programs also need to collect and analyze disaggregated data between men and women, between rural and urban villages, and among communities, households, and individuals, to best target those in need and to measure participation. Affirmative action and inclusion of marginalized groups, such as women, must be addressed through quotas.

In 2015, the Government of Indonesia introduced the new Village Law, which is the new master framework for village development and community empowerment and embodies many of the aforementioned principles of the PNPM-CDD program. Although adopted and enacted to ensure sustainability of the PNPM programs, this framework also brings attention to the many challenges and implications it faces for future implementation.

Firstly, the programs must find a better, comprehensive way to measure accountability. Under the new law, the some 73,000 villages are seeing a large influx of resources from the government and outside funding agencies such as AusAid, CIDA, DANIDA, USAID, EU, UKAID, and the Dutch Government. The district governments have low capacity to monitor the cash flows and implementation of village governments. Who will provide the accountability and oversight and perform the audits? Or, who will be responsible for strengthening the oversight? The programs need a strong monitoring, evaluation, and learning (ME&L) framework—built-in accountability targets and performance-based indicators—to ensure precise development results and to prevent elite capture of village transfers.

A community-led development (CLD) approach, however, introduces such social accountability measures, supporting regularized processes such as public forums, at which local governments can demonstrate transparency and accountability and citizens can review and challenge the progress of targets and goals. CLD also supports communities to generate and access timely, locally relevant data that informs priority setting and strengthens progress tracking.

Secondly, it is important to remember that an increase in resources does not necessarily equip the villagers with the skills and expertise needed to obtain jobs and administer good service delivery. CDD projects often do not benefit everyone and takes years to trickle down to the most marginalized groups. How do we streamline this process to ensure that the most vulnerable are receiving the resources?

Lastly, although the law provides a strong legal framework for mainstreaming PNPM-CDD principles in village socio-economic activities, it does not necessarily guarantee sound implementation in practice. The PNPM-CDD programs must be sustainable and fully integrated into the local system of government. The law does not specifically address what it can impact in the short term versus what it can affect in the long term, which is necessary to ensure sustainability and resiliency. PNPM-CDD programs could learn from the CLD’s approach to sustainability and resiliency.

The CLD approach addresses sustainability and resiliency by addressing challenging factors such as climate change and population growth and how this in turn puts strong pressures on rural areas. The CLD approach calls for a process that includes actions to ensure that a program and community are resilient to climatic, political, and economic shocks. Local communities must have a regularized process of disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness.

The PNPM-CDD programs in Indonesia are promising and making considerable progress. However, the programs can build upon this progress by introducing several key distinguishing principles introduced by the CLD approach, namely: a keen focus on facilitators as mobilizers and “agents of change” rather than “beneficiaries,” a gender-mainstreamed approach, built-in social accountability measures, timely and disaggregated data, strengthening legal existence through ME&L, and implementing sustainability and resiliency safeguards.

DC Launch of 2016 Access to Nutrition Index

Last week, the Access to Nutrition Foundation Executive Director Inge Kauer presented the most recent Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) for 2016 at the InterAction office in Washington, DC.

The Access to Nutrition Foundation is an independent nonprofit based in the Netherlands, with the objective of assessing and contributing to the improvement of the private sector’s methods of providing global nutrition. ATNI’s founding principle is centered on the fact that the world’s leading food and beverage companies can play a leading role in improving poor nutrition and related diseases. By examining the companies’ practices, governance structure, marketing, and commitments, ATNI assigns an index number to the major food and beverage companies, providing them with an incentive to improve before the next index is released.

The first Access to Nutrition Index was released in 2013, as a tool major companies can use to benchmark their nutrition practices progress. Overall, 22 of the top companies were assessed to determine their levels of social, commercial and financial responsibility within their industry.

According to this year’s index, one in three people in the world are undernourished or overweight. Over the course of the next ten years, nutrition issues are projected to significantly increase. Obesity and diet-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers are at epidemic rates, affecting countries of all income levels. Recent years has shown a positive trend in corporations’ interest in engaging better with their consumers, who demand healthier products and higher levels of accountability.

The 2016 Index has additionally included a pilot study, ranking all the leading producers of breastmilk substitutes (BMS). This addition to the index addresses a controversial issue in on the nutrition agenda. ATNI’s intention was to create a transparent and accountable way to measure how corporations contribute to child rearing in developing countries. Companies were assessed based on alignment with the 1981 International Code of Marketing and of Breast-milk Substitutes.

Corporations were measured for the index based on seven indicators:

  1. Governance (12.5%) – corporate strategy, governance and management
  2. Products (25%) – formulation of appropriate products
  3. Accessibility (20%) – delivering affordable, available products
  4. Marketing (20%) – responsible marketing policies, compliance and spending
  5. Lifestyles (2.5%) – support for healthy diets and active lifestyles
  6. Labeling (15%) – informative labeling and appropriate use of health and nutrition claims
  7. Engagement (5%) – engagement with governments, policymakers and stakeholders

Based on the 2016 Index, Unilever scored highest for the ATNI overall ranking. ATNI commended Unilever for successfully integrating nutrition strategy into their core business model, with a specific emphasis on undernutrition. According to the Index, Unilever dedicated its future strategy towards a healthier profiling system, with a comprehensive response to undernutrition.

Other top performers included Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez, and Mars. The main conclusions of the 2016 Index were that progress has been made, but these large food and beverage corporations are slow to change their role in the fight for better global nutrition.

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Nestlé topped the BMS Index, but ATNI found that none of the four F&B companies and the two pharmaceutical companies included in the BMS Index were fully compliant with the International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes (The Code) or the many World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions reinforcing The Code. As recommendations, ATNI encourages all companies to overhaul their marketing systems, except when forbidden by national laws. In independent case studies conducted by Westat in Vietnam and Indonesia, many instances of non-compliance were revealed, offering much room for improvement.

ATNIBMSATNI has now reached global recognition for their work as the first index to benchmark companies to facilitate growth and improvement. Since the first index in 2013, companies have increased their engagement with the research process, which highlights a positive trend towards improved policies and procedures.

Full details of the companies’ performances can be found on individual scorecards at accesstonutrition.org.

IFPRI and The Hunger Project feature ODESZA in 2015 Global Nutrition Report Video

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.47.50 AMThe official video for the 2015 Global Nutrition Report (GNR), featuring popular electronic music group ODESZA‘s song Kusanagi, launched on Monday, November 9th. The video summarizes key messages about global malnutrition and its effects on strong development. Produced by The Hunger Project’s Policy Analyst, Mary Kate Costello, the video features imagery and video donated by The Hunger Project, accurately depicting the realities of extremely impoverished persons and the challenges of malnutrition.

As Post 2015 nears, the 2015 GNR bears heavy weight in development dialogues about priority issue areas to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The reality that no country is on track to achieve all of the nutrition targets set by the World Health Assembly is sobering given that countries can lose up to 11% GDP as a result of malnutrition. To meet health, WASH and economic indicators, nutrition must be prioritized.

This video marks a turning point for nutrition experts and champions as it aims to reach new audiences by featuring music from a musical group such as ODESZA, which has a social media following of more than 70,000 millennials and electronic music fans. This type of video calls on the millennial generation that beholds the chance to end extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition in all of its forms to share the message and take action: “To policy makers everywhere from everyone: malnutrition affects everyone on earth.”

Music:
ODESZA – “Kusanagi”
http://odesza.com

Linking WASH, Nutrition and Agriculture: Indicators to Measure Progress Across SDGs

IMG_1425Many development actors and United Nations Member States have suggested – where possible – that indicators for the SDGs measure progress towards more than one target, or be “multi-purpose.” On March 27th, the International Coalition on Advocating for Nutrition (ICAN) hosted a discussion at the UN titled Indicators with Impact: how to measure nutrition in the post-2015 development agenda. CONCERN Worldwide, Action Against Hunger, The Hunger Project, Farming First, WaterAid and WASH Advocates co-organized a follow-up discussion on Thursday, April 23rd about inherent linkages between nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and agriculture during a week of negotiations about Financing for Development and Means of Implementation. Attendees and panelists discussed how indicators for these three sectors can meaningfully measure progress to ensure a sustainable and comprehensive Post 2015 framework.

With only 15 years to meet this agenda, efforts will require broad scale-up of effective partnerships, the realization of national ownership and efficient methodologies.

In her opening remarks, moderator Åsa Skogström-Feldt, CEO of The Hunger Project, stated that the development community knows that “nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions address both hunger and nutrition, and failure to address WASH issues can undermine both nutrition and food security…These issues are inextricably linked.” Åsa challenged attendees to ensure that solutions – and the way in which we measure progress towards them – acknowledge interlinkages and address the root causes underlying the manifestations of hunger and poverty in all of their forms.

Susan Carlson, Chair of the Women’s Committee of the World Farmer’s Organization set the context for discussion as a female farmer herself and representative of rural, farmers’ voices from the Global South. She urged that agricultural initiatives seek to shift subsistence farming toward sustainable livelihoods through an increase in funding and investments from a variety of actors to ensure adequate commitments.

Indicators in the UN Statistical Commission’s preliminary list for target 2.2 for nutrition do not reference lactating mothers and two indicators on target 2.4 address climate change mitigation but omit adaptation, resilience, and the vital topic of soil quality referenced in the target. Improving these indicators to more holistically measure progress will not only uphold the targets and their goals, but also offer a significant avenue of opportunity for partnerships between actors focused on value-add for nutrition and WASH.

Expounding on gaps in the current draft of the SDG indicator framework, Dr. Andrew Trevett, UNICEF’s Senior Adviser for WASH, stated that a crucial and clearer global indicator for water security – as it affects food production and the linkage to time poverty – is missing. Improved water supplies and access yields increased productivity of small farmers and opportunity for economic empowerment of women [in rural areas.] Current WASH priorities in the SDGs include elimination of open defecation, universal access to basic water and sanitation, raising service levels to deliver safely managed water and sanitation services and progressive elimination of inequalities. WASH access – as it reduces exposure to fecal pollution – is critical for improved nutrition outcomes, especially stunting in children and pregnant women’s retention of nutrients.

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These points brought the discussion full-circle to the driving topic of this event: nutrition. Hien Tran of Global Policy and Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation returned after speaking on the previous event’s panel about specific nutrition indicators that can be broadly and feasibly applied across sectors at both the global and national levels.

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On this panel, Hien focused on the conceptual approaches to selecting the best indicators for the Post 2015 framework, noting that they must be sensitive to differing national capacities: “We can see how the integration of these sectors paves the way for partnership opportunities, thus improving [our] shared capacity to strengthen the implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda.” Looking at nutrition in its simplest form – with respect to agriculture – Hien highlighted a “feedback loop,” wherein nutrition-sensitive agriculture can provide an accessible supply of diverse, nutritious foods, and improved nutrition leads to better health which can help improve productivity on the farm. The glue in this “feedback loop” is the inclusion of WASH, reinforcing Dr. Trevett’s point that without safe water and adequate sanitation, any possible gain in improved nutrition will be undermined by water-borne diseases and unclean conditions.

So, what implications do the inherent linkages between WASH, nutrition and agriculture have in determining [the best] indicators for the post-2015 framework? Hien noted that considering policy implications across sectors is particularly important because it has been emphasized that developing indicators is a technical process, and rightfully so. However, the technical process must be informed by a very strong, complete, and nuanced understanding of linkages and policy implications across sectors.” The baseline criteria for indicators is that they be methodologically sound, outcome-focused and allow for global comparisons. But, the value of an indicator is not only in its effectiveness in measuring progress for a particular target, but also how policy implications from the interventions underlying a particular indicator apply to progress toward other targets.

Hien used the example of an indicator for the prevalence of stunting in children under 5, which will solidly measure progress towards ending all forms of malnutrition (target 2.2). This indicator captures a non-income dimension of poverty as stunting reflects cumulative effects of inadequate food intake and poor health conditions that result from exposure to unsanitary environment common in communities living in endemic poverty. The implications from initiatives to address stunting have implications for eradicating poverty in all its forms as well as measuring progress toward target 1.2 to reduce – at least by half – the proportion of all persons living in poverty in all its dimensions (according to national definitions).

Those living in poverty – the people at the heart of what the SDGs are intended to address – face multiple burdens, thus programmatic interventions cannot ignore these overlapping challenges. The selection of indicators must reflect and take this into account.

Multi-purpose Nutrition Indicators: Measuring Progress of Comprehensive Post 2015 Development Agenda

IMG_0895The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are meant to be a comprehensive and universal framework for improving development and eradicating hunger and poverty – in all of its forms. Its current draft is favorably ambitious. However, there is wide concern among implementing multi-laterals, NGOs and member states about the capacity to achieve the goals given the large number of targets and a possibly exponentially larger set of indicators.

During the United Nation’s Inter-Governmental Negotiations last week (March 23rd – 27th) member states expressed general favor for indicators and targets that are cross-cutting and multi-purpose to ensure that implementation, monitoring and measuring be feasible without compromising the goals; indicators must heed synergistic approaches for multi-sectoral prioritization. The United Nation’s Standing Committee on Nutrition’s policy brief, Priority Nutrition Indicators, notes that 194 Member States unanimously endorsed the below eight nutrition indicators at the 65th World Health Assembly, broadly consenting that they can efficiently and comprehensively measure progress in the most critical areas of nutrition and other development outcomes.

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On Friday, the 27th, members of the International Coalition on Advocating Nutrition (ICAN) – World Vision, The Hunger Project, Save the Children, CONCERN and Action Against Hunger – hosted a timely, multi-stakeholder discussion at the United Nations to discuss specific nutrition indicators that are inherently multi-purpose and thus critical for inclusion in the SDGs. Moderated by World Vision Ireland’s CEO, Helen Keogh, panelists discussed achievements in various development areas via nutrition initiatives, opportunities to leverage the comprehensive nature of the SDGs, why nutrition indicators are so crucial and how nutrition can be fully addressed in the Post 2015 Global Development Agenda Framework.

Anthony Caswell Pérez, Director of International Affairs, Advocacy and Child Rights Governances of Save the Children Mexico, noted that these eight indicators were devised from lessons in development over the last 15 years and have strong, supporting scientific evidence. Pérez pressed the importance of breastfeeding as a multi-purpose indicator: high impact, but low investment for food security and nutrition, and also benefits the SDG health target on ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030.

Hien Tran, Global Policy and Advocacy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, challenged that the current targets of Goal 2 lack strength and ambition to truly improve nutritional impact for all people, not just those considered to be “low hanging fruit.” The nutrition indicators above will not only pave way for improved nutrition for marginalized people, but will also behoove other areas of development (i.e. education, health and decreases in maternal morbidity). This allows for broader application, increased capacity in measuring across sectors and feasibility in their application at both the national and grassroots levels.

Nutrition is a driver of development, but also an outcome of development improvements. Ambassador Caleb Otto of the Mission of the Republic of Palau to the UN noted that achievements to improving nutrition can be hindered by a multitude of issues: addiction, poverty, breastmilk substitutes and poor policies supporting gender equality. He called for stronger political will to address the critical issues of poverty and women to enhance nutrition. While this will rely heavily on much needed data about ideal methodologies of implementation, it is nevertheless an example of needed policies for an enabling environment.

Attendees furthered the technical discussion by highlighting the linkages between agriculture and nutrition, stating that without good agricultural practices, access to land, women’s labor rights and access to markets, nutrition will not be possible for all people. Additional attention was placed on linkages between WASH and nutrition and others discussed the impact of climate change on nutrition as it affects crop availability or composition.

Nutrition is not only a cross-sectoral issue, but also universal. Almost every country in the world faces longterm health risks attributed to some form of malnutrition. This is true across classes, ages and gender. Addressing malnutrition will not only save lives, but will also reduce inequalities and build resilience (ICAN, February 2015). If the development community intends to achieve sustainable development in a mere fifteen year period, efficiency and effectiveness through nutrition initiatives as they are specified in the SDGs’ indicators will be critical.

Award-Winning Agriculture/Nutrition Projects

Harvest Nutrition contest
Image courtesy of cgiar.org

Three projects were awarded as winners of the 2013 Harvesting Nutrition contest  organized by  SecureNutrition . The contest was organized to promote initiatives with a holistic approach linking nutrition, agriculture and food security. The award ceremony was held at The World Bank on February 19, 2015. According to SecureNutrition the contest attracted 50 submissions from projects around the world showcasing  a global effort to close the gap between agriculture, food security and nutrition. A panel of five judges from SecureNutrition, GAIN, and Save the Children took part in the decision process. The three winning projects were selected according to their potential for impact, innovation and scalability.

Below is the profile of the three winning projects and assessment of their unique approach provided by the decision panel ;

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  • Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN): Potential Impact on Nutrition 

    Aiming to increase year-round availability of and access to high-quality foods at the household level, preliminary data from RAIN shows encouraging results, with increased production of various micronutrient rich crops, such as leafy green vegetables, and increased dietary diversity during both the hunger as the post-harvest seasons.  With rigorous data collection and analysis, conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), integrated into the program design and strong government coordination, the potential impact – and potential for demonstrating an impact – of RAIN on nutrition outcomes is likely to increase as the project unfolds. (Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition (RAIN)

  • Shamba Shape Up : Innovation 

    A “make-over”-style reality TV show targeting rural smallholder farmers, Shamba Shape Up was a clear standout as an innovative platform for presenting and disseminating a nutrition message. Shamba Shape Up reaches over 10 million farmers in East Africa with tools and information to improve productivity and income on their farms  (Shamba Shape Up)

  •  N2Africa: Scalability 

    A large-scale multi-country “development to research” project aimed at promoting new technologies for improving productivity of legumes such as groundnut, cowpea and common bean – commonly regarded as women’s crops – N2Africa works with a wide variety of stakeholders across the value chain from seed to fork and from field to market.  A strong evaluation system provides the basis for ongoing feedback and learning. (N2Africa)

Our perspective on the Global Nutrition Report

2014 Global Nutrition Report CoverBackground: Nutrition is a huge and difficult challenge, requiring convergent action on many fronts: agriculture, health, WASH, education and – most importantly – gender equality and female empowerment. Those championing this action have been held back by the lack of timely data — until now. In the aftermath of the the 2013 Nutrition for Growth summit in London, civil society pressed for publication of a Global Nutrition Report to help hold countries accountable for their commitments, and now we have it. Lawrence Haddad has led an Independent Expert Group in preparing this first report, and everyone committed to ending world hunger should be familiar with it.

Purpose of this note: Here are a number of points particularly relevant to The Hunger Project’s advocacy.

  1. We strongly endorse the top 10 messages of the report (see page 71-72).
  2. The Post-2015 Agenda should be more ambitious on nutrition. Current drafts ratify most of the 2012 World Health Assembly (WHA) goals, which are not particularly ambitious (40% reduction in stunting by 2025) and are inconsistent with the Zero Goal philosophy of the SDGs.
  3. Gender-specific good news from India: Maharashtra, one of the richest states in India, reduced stunting from 36.5 percent to 24 percent from 2005-2006 to 2012. Improvements in women’s lives was key: “the determinants that improved the most were the age of mother at first birth, maternal under-weight, maternal literacy, coverage of antenatal visit, delivery in the presence of birth attendants, child feeding practices and access to ICDS (the Integrated Child Development Scheme).
  4. Malnutrition affects us all. Both undernutrition and obesity have terrible health and economic impacts, and both co-exist in most countries. We are all in this together. The report calls this the “quintessential 21st century challenge.”
  5. Five THP countries are not on course to meet a single WHA target: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique. On track for one target are: Ethiopia, India, Malawi, Mexico and Senegal. For two: Peru and Uganda.
  6. More attention is needed on participation and local governance. The report mentions decentralization as a challenge for national accountability and points to promising experience in Indonesia and Guatemala, but The Hunger Project sees it as key to effective implementation. More in-depth study of how this can best be achieved would be useful, particularly how communities can build their own capacity and measure and track their own progress. The report points out that “the impact of [participatory] mechanisms on provision of nutrition services has not been empirically evaluated.”
  7. Importance of going to scale. Improving society-wide conditions requires society-wide action, not small projects. Governments and civil society groups need to work together on a campaign footing to ensure that clear, consistent information reaches everyone. Educating local-level leaders to be nutrition champions who understand the linkages to WASH and gender needs to be a top priority.

Top 10 Messages from the GNR:

  1. People with good nutrition are key to sustainable development.
  2. We need to commit to improving nutrition faster and build this goal into the Sustainable Development Goal targets for 2030.
  3. The world is currently not on course to meet the global nutrition targets set by the World Health Assembly, but many countries are making good progress in the target indicators.
  4. Dealing with different, overlapping forms of malnutrition is the “new normal.”
  5. We need to extend coverage of nutrition-specific programs to more of the people who need them.
  6. A greater share of investments to improve the underlying determinants of nutrition should be designed to have a larger impact on nutritional outcomes.
  7. More must be done to hold donors, countries, and agencies accountable for meeting their commitments to improve nutrition.
  8. Tracking spending on nutrition is currently challenging, making it difficult to hold responsible parties accountable.
  9. Nutrition needs a data revolution.
  10. National nutrition champions need to be recognized, supported, and expanded in number.

2025 and 2030

English_Poster_A_Global_Target_2025As the world community finalizes a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, there are a number of 2025 targets associated with “ending hunger” – namely the World Health Assembly Nutrition Targets and the commitment of the Africa Union to “Zero Hunger” by 2025.

Are these 2025 goals in conflict with – or consistent with – the SDGs?

On the downside, having two target dates in the public eye adds confusion at the very time we need to mobilize public support for an already-complicated set of targets.

But – the short answer is – there is no conflict. Here are several reasons:

  1. Many of the SDGs will need to be met early. Just as the MDG poverty goal was hit 5 years early, we cannot wait until 2030 to reach every goals. The world had better reach some of them first.
  2. Ending Hunger in Africa is likely to be easier than in South Asia. Most of the world’s hunger is in South Asia, not Africa, and it is more mired in social obstacles (gender and caste discrimination) than in Africa.
  3. Ending Hunger in Africa is a stepping stone to ending poverty. As the World Bank has shown (WDR 2008), investments in agriculture has twice the poverty-fighting power as other investments. So – for Africa to end extreme poverty, it would be smart to end hunger by 2025.
  4. The World Health Assembly Nutrition Targets are not “zero goals.” They were adopted in 2012, before the “Zero Goal” paradigm of the SDGs was formulated. They are proportional goals – part-way but still ambitious goals the way the MDGs were. There will still be hunger in the world when these six targets are met, although meeting them would be a good indicator that hunger could be ended by 2030.

Key Facts about the Africa Union Zero Hunger Commitment

  • July 2013: Brazil’s former President, who carried out Brazil’s Zero Hunger program, facilitated a High Level meeting of the AU at which the Zero Hunger Commitment was made.Click here to download the declaration. The declaration pledges to:
    • End hunger by 2025 within the CAADP Framework.
    • Strengthen systems for inter-sectoral collaboration among institutions and for co-operation with non-state actors (farmers organizations, civil society, academia, and private sector)
    • Commit targeted budget lines for social protection to enable the poor to re-engage in economic activity;
    • Increase support for youth and small-holders, especially women.
  • June 2014: One year later, in the Malabo Declaration (click here to read) the heads of state fleshed out these pledges with specific targets and action commitments, including:
    • Double agricultural productivity
    • Cut post-harvest losses in half
    • Cut poverty in half by 2025
    • Reduce stunting to 10% (from current levels averaging 40%). This is a tremendously ambitious goal, that far exceeds the WHO target
    • Reduce wasting to 5% (consistent with the WHO target)
    • Create agricultural jobs for 30% of the youth
    • Call upon the AU Commission and NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) to develop an implementation strategy and roadmap and report to the January 2015 AU Summit
  • January 2015: Here is the AU Implementation Strategy and Roadmap