Tag Archives: Malnutrition

As ICN2 Closes, Where Do We Go From Here?

This blog was authored by ACTION nutrition staff who took part in ICN2:  Anushree Shiroor, RESULTS UK; Kate Goertzen, ACTION Secretariat; Manaan Mumma, Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium; Margarita Matias Valencia, RESULTS Canada; and Pauline Pruvost, Global Health Advocates France.

Twenty-two years after the first International Conference on Nutrition, the widely anticipated ICN2 is now drawing to a close in Rome.

In so many ways, the conference was an essential step in the global fight against malnutrition in all its forms, providing a long overdue opportunity for all relevant actors to come together and discuss innovative, partnership-building next steps for multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral nutrition work.

But gathering together was the easy part; the real work is still to follow. Member States, civil society, social movements, parliamentarians, the private sector and others must take concrete action to make new commitments on nutrition, and to create a connected and concrete action plan that will set the stage to scale up progress in the fight against malnutrition.

After participating in ICN2 this week, below is our analysis of key events and happenings at the conference. Learn more about RESULTS UK’s work on nutrition here.

Valuing the Contributions of All and Building Multi-stakeholder Platforms

We welcomed the collaboration of all actors at two specific pre-conference events: the SUN Global Gathering and the ICN2 Civil Society Forum.

The ICN2 Civil Society Forum celebrated the inputs of social and community movements on nutrition, including farmers, fishers, gender equality groups, health civil society organizations, and others concerned with the links between the environment and malnutrition. These valuable voices are not often featured in international fora, and we must listen.

At the SUN Global Gathering, members of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, which is now active in 54 countries, met for an annual gathering to set priorities, share lessons, and network across multi-stakeholder platforms. As multi-sectoral teams, countries strategized on what it will take to end malnutrition in all forms, and the roles of each sector going forward. This set the stage for collaboration across multi-stakeholder platforms during ICN2 itself.

Valuing Equity, and Operating Smartly Within the Larger Context

We welcome the fact that civil society was given a voice during the plenary and we value the commitment of the CSO vision statement to human rights and the “do no harm” principle.

However, we also believe that appropriate prophylactic intervention—such as iron and folic acid supplementation and vitamin-A supplementation—are needed to prevent undernutrition and reduce both the risk of infection and mortality among groups such as children under five years of age, adolescent girls, and women of reproductive age. Life-saving interventions such as ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) in cases of severe acute malnutrition, and zinc supplementation in diarrhea cannot be phased out unless health systems are strong enough to prevent the conditions that put vulnerable lives at risk in the first place.

This does not in any way undermine the importance of a need for resilient and responsive food systems or improved and equitable access to nutrient rich and diverse food—nor does it overlook the need to address socio-economic and environmental causes of malnutrition. We must value a deep commitment to human rights for all individuals, and an equity-based approach that prioritizes reaching the hardest to reach. This includes the right to health, health system strengthening, and improving access to treatment in addition to doing our best to prevent malnutrition. Preventing and treating malnutrition is indeed about so much more.

Bridging our Response to Emergency or Humanitarian Situations and the Chronic Emergency of Wasting and Stunting Globally

It was also encouraging this week to hear country interventions that understand that acute malnutrition (wasting) does not exist only in emergency situations, and is in fact common globally. Countries should leave ICN2 with a clear understanding that chronic and acute malnutrition exist in the same spaces and the same contexts—and we must address these issues in tandem. By extension, we must also address emergency contexts involving malnutrition in a way that integrates ongoing country or regional malnutrition contexts.

Charting a Clear Way Forward

Throughout the conference, States were reminded of the nutrition targets unanimously agreed upon at the 2012 World Health Assembly. These targets set goals for reducing malnutrition across six areas for achievement by 2025: stunting (chronic malnutrition),anemia, low birth weight, overweight, breastfeeding, and wasting (acute malnutrition). Member States and others spoke on innovative approaches, successes, and challenges encountered in addressing each of these goals. Further, a valuable new global targets tracking tool on what it will take at the country level to achieve these targets by 2025 was also launched.

Some of the WHA targets are already integrated into the standalone goal on food security and adequate nutrition proposed by the Open Working Group (OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While  the employment of clear, internationally-endorsed targets to chart our way forward on ending malnutrition is to be celebrated, we also believe the considerable discussion of the post-2015 targets on nutrition throughout ICN2 sets a strong foundation for projecting these targets forward by another five years, to further bend the curve and chart us on our way to end poverty by 2030. There is no time to waste.

Finally, the landmark first-ever Global Nutrition Report, launched on the international stage at ICN2, will considerably further nutrition accountability work going forward. We applaud its release and the accountability tools for all actors that are sure to result.

A few questions, of course, do remain. A clear governance and accountability mechanism for nutrition was not established at ICN2. After three days of convening, we still don’t know who will be accountable for what. The Framework for Action sets recommendations but they are not necessarily measurable or time-bound. How can we measure the implementation at national and subnational levels? At the global level, who will be the coordination body? We call for a strong accountability mechanism that will integrate with already existing frameworks.

Following this excellent week for collaboration and setting new, actionable targets on ending malnutrition globally, all should be watching governments around the world closely—and doing their own part—to ensure outcome statements are put into action.

DFIDs Progress One Year on from Nutrition for Growth

DFIDs leadership on tackling undernutrition was instrumental in bringing world leaders together for the Nutrition for Growth summit last year. Last month our grassroots volunteers encouraged DFID to honour their £655 million commitment at Nutrition for Growth and called on them to announce how they had spent their money committed at the Nutrition for Growth event last year. Many of our grassroots volunteers placed media all over the UK, in a variety of news outlets, from the Catholic Herald to the Eastern Daily Press in Norfolk.

In their letter to the editor the editor the Reading RESULTS Group said, “We want to ensure that the great commitments of the Department for International Development and Justine Greening MP are honoured. We are asking that by June 8ths 2014, the UK makes an announcement of how a significant portion of funds will be spent.”

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Thanks to the continued pressure by UK civil society, the public and passionate campaigners like our RESULTS grassroots volunteers, DFID announced that they have launched nine new nutrition programmes. This blog analyses DFID’s progress one year on.

Recap on Nutrition for Growth

As was showcased a year ago, undernutrition has been neglected for far too long. Undernutrition in developing countries has hindered progress on other development goals, from health to economic growth. Children missing out on enough of the right nutrients are less likely to succeed at school and be able to secure a livelihood as an adult. They are much more vulnerable to infectious diseases, and less likely to survive illness. Undernutrition underlies almost half (45%) of all under-five deaths, totalling 3.1 million young lives lost every year.

Recognising the importance of addressing undernutrition, leaders from all over the world came together to pledge to work together to improve nutrition for millions of women and children around the world. The event raised a total of $4.1 (£2.7) billion in commitments, to be delivered over seven years – a good start towards finding the estimated $9.6 (£5.7) billion a year needed to tackle undernutrition.

One year on, the cameras have gone and the celebrities had left Hyde Park, things have gone a little quiet. It’s vital that we maintain momentum and hold governments, donors and even civil society to account for their commitments, or we are at risk of falling short on promise, which could mean millions of children being robbed of the opportunity to live healthy lives and reach their full potential.

DFIDs progress one year on

DFIDs latest report – ‘Nutrition for growth: One Year On’ – recaps the progress they have made one year on from the historic event. Many may remember that DFID pledged to provide an additional £375 million for nutrition-specific programmes between 2013 and 2020. It also pledged to provide match funding of up to £280 million, to leverage additional commitments and bolster nutrition efforts. Their commitment includes an additional £604 million was for nutrition-sensitive programming across other sectors including social protection, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Since 2013 DFID’s has launched nine new nutrition-specific programmes. However, only four of the nine were launched since June 8th 2013, as the other five had started earlier in the year. The report provides details of three of the four programmes set up since Nutrition for Growth:

  • A £4.8 million programme in Mozambique that aims to reach 600,000 women and children with improved nutrition interventions over 3 years
  • A £4.8 million programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo that aims to reach 1.6 million children and treat 63,000 suffering from acute malnourishment over 2 years
  •  £14 million to enable the provision of technical assistance in India

In addition to these programmes, DFID is due to launch a new programme in Tanzania, which aims to reduce the number of stunted children by 10% (80,000 under 5’s), within a five-year period (2014 – 2018) by focussing on behaviour change and access to nutritious foods as well as an enabling environment. RESULTS UK is pleased to hear about this new programme, especially following our parliamentary delegation to Tanzania last year.

These three programmes, specified in the report, make up a total of £23.6 million of the £375 million commitment. The £23.6 million spent so far is an important step, and is underwritten by a promise to hit their target through annual increases in nutrition spending – from the 2010 baseline of £25 million a year to £100 million a year by 2020. But DFID still has a long way to go to fulfil their commitment.

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What’s more, DFID’s projections – specified in Figure 1 – are contingent on mobilising new commitments by other actors. £280 million of DFIDs £655 million commitment is contingent on being matched by others. This has the potential to leverage new commitments and bolster efforts for nutrition – if matched by other. However, if DFID is unable to mobilise new commitments, the £280 million may never leave the UK, and would almost half DFIDs financial commitment. This could have serious implications for reaching the millions of women and children with life-saving nutrition interventions, especially as DFIDs commitment makes up almost a quarter of the total commitment for direct nutrition interventions.

DFIDs projections for how it plans to disburse its finances sees the largest disbursals being made in 2019 and 2020. This is a little concerning, as we only have till 2020 to reach 500 million pregnant women and children with nutrition interventions and prevent 20 million children from becoming permanently stunted. Seeing reductions in stunting can take a number of years, as stunting is often generational and needs to be address within the key first 1000 days of life. For these reasons it is unlikely that we will be able to fully measure the nutritional impacts of the finances disbursed in 2019 and 2020. In order to see they greatest impact made by 2020 DFID, and others, should make strategic steps to disburse their commitments sooner rather than later. Or we may find ourselves falling short of the targets we have set ourselves, leaving millions of children without access to life-saving nutrition interventions.

Media Round-up: One Year On From Nutrition for Growth

It’s been one year since the Nutrition for Growth event, which saw $4.1 billion pledged to fighting the scandal of undernutrition. Leading media outlets in the UK certainly took note and here we provide a round-up of what some of them have been saying about the progress since the historic event last year.

Undernutrition in the Land of Rice

RESULTS UK’s latest nutrition report – ‘Undernutrition in the Land of Rice’ was launched in the lead up to the Nutrition for Growth Anniversary and quickly gained attraction – from the Labour Campaign for International Development blog all the way to the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia.

Generation Nutrition, ‘Nutrition for Growth: One Year On’

Saturday saw a fantastic blog from Generation Nutrition, which took stock of what we have achieved this last year and reminded ourselves of what we can achieve if we see this through:

  • Reach 500 million pregnant women and children under the age of two with effective nutrition interventions
  • Prevent at least 20 million children under five from being stunted
  • Save the lives of at least 1.7 million by preventing stunting and through life-saving interventions such as the treatment of severe acute malnutrition

“The task of reducing undernutrition can sometimes feel incredible daunting. But then I remind myself that we have never been in a stronger position to tackle undernutrition”, says Sabrina de Souza, Nutrition Advocacy Coordinator at RESULTS UK.

The Guardian, ‘Nutrition for growth: one year later, are the seeds planted bearing fruit?’

One year on from the landmark summit, civil society is pressing governments to turn pledges into cash. The article recognises that the financial commitment was a landmark event, but one year on, has nutrition maintained its momentum?

Joel Spicer, president of the Canada-based Micronutrient Initiative agrees that there is real action going on: “Things are moving in the right direction. Just last week, Canada hosted a summit on maternal, newborn and child health, with nutrition as a key platform, and pledged $3.5bn between 2015 and 2020 towards achieving impact.”

However, there is still good reason for urgency around the fast and effective disbursal of commitments according to Sabrina de Souza, “The sooner the money is there, the more impact we will have. There’s a massive opportunity for £280m match funding which was part of DfID’s commitment, and we see this as having potential to leverage other donors and other countries to make new commitments, but so far we’re not aware of any progress being made in matching that money.”

Huffington Post, ‘Ending Child Malnutrition: Never Before Have We Been So Forearmed’

Never before in human history have we been so forewarned of what would happen if we neglect undernutrition:

  • 3.1 million dying each year from this preventable condition
  • countries losing up to 3% of the GDP because of poor nutrition
  • less children enrolling and completing school

But never before in history have we ever been so forearmed with the knowledge to change it!

“Today, the evidence base has never been stronger. Of course it’s not perfect, but a lack of evidence and solutions are no longer viable excuses for inaction. We know how to prevent children from becoming malnourished and we know how to effectively treat children with the most severe form of acute malnutrition.”

ACTION,A Year Since Nutrition For Growth: Civil Society Leads the Way

Our friends at ACTION have also put together this great blog outlining how civil society, especially those working directly on the ground in high-burden countries, are leading the way.

Grassroots Media

And last, but by no means least, some amazing articles by our very own grassroots volunteers. Our grassroots volunteers have been working tirelessly this last year, encouraging the UK Government to make a big pledge at the Nutrition for Growth event. Since then they have been reminding DFID how proud they are of the UK’s commitment, while highlighting to them the need to see the money disbursed quickly and effectively.

RESULTS grassroots volunteers placed media all over the UK, in a variety of news outlets, from the Catholic Herald to the Eastern Daily Press in Norfolk.

In their letter to the editor the Reading RESULTS Group said, “We want to ensure that the great commitments of the Department for International Development and Justine Greening MP are honoured. We are asking that by June 8ths 2014, the UK makes an announcement of how a significant portion of funds will be spent.”

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Thanks to the continued pressure by UK civil society, the public and passionate campaigners like our RESULTS grassroots volunteers, DFID announced that they have launched nine new nutrition programmes and are well on their way to fulfilling their commitments. But we must maintain the momentum. The sooner the money is implemented the greater impact we will have.

 

Nutrition Advocacy in Zambia: Challenges and Opportunities

Zambia report front coverRESULTS UK and CITAM+ are pleased to share their new report – ‘Nutrition Advocacy in Zambia: Challenges and Opportunities. This report examines the nutrition advocacy space in the Zambia, primarily looking at the experience of civil society organisations (CSOs) working on nutrition advocacy. It gives an overview of some of the obstacles to doing nutrition advocacy, as well as some opportunities to strengthen advocacy around nutrition in Zambia.

Findings in the report are based on discussions with Zambia based civil society organsisations during November 2013, as well as a consultation of findings in March 2014.

With the participation of civil society organizations and key members of parliament, the purpose of the report is to inform nutrition advocacy efforts and also acts as a catalyst to initiate further discussions on nutrition advocacy. Together with our partners, and the participants in the research, we hope that this report catalyses discussion around nutrition advocacy to find the best solutions to strengthen advocacy and political will Zambia.

Undernutrition and Political Will in Zambia

Despite having experienced steady economic growth over the past decade, Zambia’s nutrition situation remains as “alarming” according to the Global Hunger Index. With prevalence at 45% it has one of the highest rates of stunting in the world.

Political will for nutrition will be key to seeing reductions in undernutrition in Zambia. The Government of Zambia (GoZ) have taken steps over the last few years that indicate some level of political will:

  • They were among the first to join the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement
  • They made ambitious commitments at last years Nutrition for Growth event to reduce stunting by 50% over the next 10 years, as well as increase financial resources for nutrition by at least 20% annually.

According to the HANCI report – which ranks Zambia 17th out of 45 countries for its commitments to hunger and nutrition – political will needs to be strengthened. Strong and continued CSO advocacy is needed to ensure that political will does not wain and that the Government is accountable to their commitment, and that these commitments translate into implementation.

Challenges and Opportunities

The report then gives an overview of how nutrition advocacy is currently being addressed in Zambia, looking at different opportunities to strengthen advocacy around the:

  • Limited number of nutrition advocates in Zambia
  • Coordination on advocacy
  • Advocacy messaging
  • Developing champions from media to parliamentarians to strengthen and extend the reach of advocacy efforts
  • Involvement of key line Ministries in the fight against undernutrition

Recommendations

Recommendations for CSOs

  • CSOs should take steps to improve their coordination around nutrition advocacy to avoid duplication and build a united voice. They should actively seek to include all CSOs working on nutrition. CSOs should work together to identify common goals and opportunities to collaborate on joint advocacy activities. CSOs working on nutrition, and other key stakeholders, can become members of the Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance (CSO-SUN), whose role is to coordinate and support nutrition advocacy in Zambia. CSO-SUN should conduct an analysis of the needs of nutrition CSOs – members and inquiring members – to inform the kind support they can provide.
  • CSOs need to develop strong coherent messages that are tailored for different audiences – from Zambian citizens to journalists to decision makers – and clearly explain undernutrition. All stakeholders should collaborate to break down common misconceptions, such as the belief that hunger is synonymous with nutrition.
  • CSOs should conduct a media analysis to fully understand why reporting on nutrition is given low priority in Zambia.
  • CSOs should conduct a nutrition budget analysis of all key Ministries and identify key opportunities to engage in budget processes, and where possible take part in formal budget submissions.
  • CSOs should make efforts to build strong relationship with influential authority figures from all spheres – from political leaders to the media – to facilitate change at multiple levels.

Recommendations for Donors

  • Donors should allocate more funding for nutrition advocacy projects in Zambia, with an understanding that policy advocacy needs long-term engagement and rarely shows immediate results.
  • Donors should provide technical assistance to CSOs engaging in nutrition advocacy – both established and smaller organisations – to help build their advocacy capacity.

Recommendations for Government and Government Bodies

  • The GoZ should move the National Food and Nutrition Commission out of the Ministry of Health into the office of the Vice President. Here it can greater coordinating power over all Ministries that have a role to play in tackling undernutrition.
  • Ministries that have existing budget lines on nutrition should take steps to allocate more funding for nutrition. Other key Ministries, that do not currently have budget lines for nutrition, should work with CSOs to develop budgets and activities for nutrition that will be complementary to their existing mandate. All Ministries should make formal requests of the Ministry of Finance to increase their nutrition budgets.
  • Steps should be taken to enhance the collaboration of responsible Ministries to ensure that nutrition-related interventions complement each other.
  • Decision makers should engage more openly with CSOs and, where possible, alleviate financial barriers that limit the ability for CSOs to work with them. Decision makers should use civil society and academia as sources of information and support in a joint collaborative effort to eliminate poverty and undernutrition

For more information, you can find the full report here.

UK Parliamentary Launch of Generation Nutrition

Tomorrow evening, RESULTS UK along with several other coalition partners, are hosting an event in Parliament to mark the UK launch of the Generation Nutrition campaign. This new global campaign aims to see an end to child deaths from acute malnutrition. This preventable and treatable condition affects over 52 million children and claims the lives if over 1 million children a year.

GN_strapline_orange_cmykWhile we have made progress over the last 15 years – an 11% drop in rates of acute malnutrition – it has been far too slow. Treatment is available so that no child should die from this condition, including ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) and programmes such as the community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM), which are highly effective and empower communities to tackle the condition in the ground. Despite the innovations in treatment, 90% of children, with the most severe and life threatening form of acute malnutrition, are unable to access these life-saving services.

Generation Nutrition is calling on governments all over the world to take urgent action in the fight against acute malnutrition to save the lives of millions of children under the age of five.

We hope you can join us for the parliamentary lunch tomorrow Wednesday 7th May, 5.15pm-7pm, Attlee Suite, Portcullis House

We have a great line up of speakers, including:

  • Aminata Shamit Koroma – Director of Food and Nutrition at the Ministry of Health, Sierra Leone
  • Augustin Flory – Director of Nutrition at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
  • Baljinder Heer –  Senior Public Health Strategist at the NHS
  • Jane Edmondson – Head of Human Development at DFID
  • Jean-Michel Grand – Executive Director at Action Against Hunger UK

If you plan to join us for the launch the event will start promptly at 5.15pm, so please allow at least 15 minutes to get through Portcullis security.

You can keep up-to-date with the speeches and activities at the launch by following us at @GenerationNutri or keeping your eyes peeled for the hashtag #GenerationNutrition.

Please RSVP to Sabrina de Souza at sabrina.desouza@results.org.uk

Malnutrition and Malaria: A Deadly Combination

Today marks World Malaria Day and the week of the launch of a new global campaign – Generation Nutrition. Sabrina de Souza, Nutrition Advocacy Assistant talks about the deadly synergy between these two child killers.

 

Child with malaria and malnutrition in Niger. Photo: Juan Carlos Tomasi

Child with malaria and malnutrition in Niger. Photo: Juan Carlos Tomasi

Malnutrition and malaria – on their own they are two of the leading causes of child death in the world. In 2012 alone, malaria was responsible for 627,000 child deaths, while acute malnutrition is responsible for 1 million child deaths each year. Together they make a deadly combination.

In many countries the period of the hunger gap, when acute malnutrition is at its peak, coincides with the rainy season, when mosquitoes breed and the number of malaria cases shoots up.

It’s a vicious circle. Malaria leaves a person vulnerable to malnutrition, and malnutrition leaves them vulnerable to malaria. And of course a person’s nutritional status affects how they recover from infection; so malnutrition both raises the risk of contracting a disease such as malaria and worsens its outcome, which in turn leaves the patient exhausted, deprived of nourishment, and vulnerable to infection.

Take actionWhile we have made significant progress in both the prevention and treatment of malaria, malnutrition continues to hampers efforts eradicate this disease and puts children at increased risk of death. Malnourished children are two times more likely to die than non-malnourished children.

Unless we tackle both malnutrition and malaria we will not secure a safer and healthier future for millions of vulnerable children worldwide. While the number of under-five deaths has been halved since 1990, 6.9 million children still die every year, mostly from preventable conditions like malnutrition or malaria.

So this World Malaria Day – given the deadly combination between malnutrition and malaria – I encourage you to sign the Generation Nutrition petition calling on leaders all over the world to take urgent action to reduce the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition by millions every year!

 

Let’s be the generation that ends children dying of acute malnutrition

Recently returned from visiting nutrition programmes in Asia and Africa, Steve Lewis, RESULTS Global Health Advocacy Manager, calls for increased efforts to end deaths from acute malnutrition.

A new coalition of development agencies is calling for child deaths from acute malnutrition to be ended. The Generation Nutrition report launched today shows that a shocking one in twelve children under five suffers from acute malnutrition, and 1 million children die every year as a result.

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Many people associate acute malnutrition  with humanitarian disasters like famine in Ethiopia or the result of civil war in South Sudan. But when I travelled with MPs to Tanzania and Cambodia recently we could all see that malnutrition really is an ‘Everyday Emergency’. The new report makes clear that acute malnutrition does not only occur in humanitarian crises, but is most common in apparently stable settings. Therefore resources need to be targeted in these countries at extending prevention measures and increasing access to community-based management of the condition.

Acute malnutrition is not an unavoidable tragedy. We know how to treat acutely malnourished children so they survive and recover and we know how to prevent the condition from occurring in the first place. In as little as six weeks, a child can be back up on their feet again, with their whole life ahead of them.  I believe it’s time to stand up for children facing deadly hunger.

A narrow faith in economic growth to lift the poor out of poverty will not bring an end to everyday hunger. In Cambodia for example I learnt that there is economic growth of around 8% a year, and the country exports rice. Yet 40% of children are undernourished and this rate has hardly changed in the last ten years.

We are launching Generation Nutrition today to shine a spotlight on the 52 million children in the world suffering from acute malnutrition. In just a month it will be the first anniversary of the June 8th ‘Nutrition for Growth’ summit held in London  when large donors pledged new funds for nutrition programmes. RESULTS and other agencies want to see clear progress on spending the funds promised.

This is a key time for campaigning on undernutrition. Generation Nutrition is launched in the run up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015 deadline. In just over a year’s time every government worldwide will agree a new set of global goals on fighting poverty that will shape priorities for the next 15 years.  We are launching a global petition calling on world leaders to prioritise tackling child malnutrition as part of the ‘post-2015’ targets. We will be presenting  recommendations to world leaders at the United Nations in September  as negotiations involving every nation on earth begin.

We need your active support if the world is to take notice of this hidden emergency. Take action now and join Generation Nutrition. This petition is just a first step as a we build a movement to end the scandal of child deaths from acute malnutiriton.

If we work together with persistence and commitment, I firmly believe that we can be the generation to see an end to acute malnutrition in our lifetime.

Nutrition and Accountability: Translating money into action

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Kat Pittore measuring stunted children in India

RESULTS’ Nutrition Advocacy Officer, Kat Pittore, looks at how to transform June 8th pledges into outcomes for children.

On June 8th 90 organisation, companies, and governments attended the Nutrition for Growth event and made significant commitments to ending undernutrition, either by pledging money, human resources, or promising to reach certain nutrition outcomes by a specific date. In some ways, the pledging was the easiest part, anyone can say that they will do something, the hard part is to actually make these changes happen.

The headline figure from the nutrition for Growth event was that we will prevent at least 20 million children from becoming stunted and save at least 1.7 million lives by 2020. The real question is, how do we make this figure become a reality? We need to make sure that the money that was pledged is programmed in an effective way, that the payments are made regularly and reliably, that money is going to the right people, and that we are achieving the desired outcomes. If this does not happen, who is responsible for holding the government, organisations, or businesses to account? This blog does not seek to answer this question, but rather to raise some of the issues that need to be resolved in order to develop an effective method to ensure that nutrition outcomes are achieved.

What do countries need to be accountable for?

One of the major questions that is being debated is what the accountability mechanism will include. One June 8th, 90 organizations and 24 governments made pledges to ending undernutrition.  However, there are many countries with a significant burden of undernutrition, such as India that were not at the table. Should they be excluded from the accountability framework? Is the goal of this framework to make sure that commitments from June 8th are upheld or should it be something much larger, looking at all countries and their commitments to nutrition?  Is this something that is necessary or too ambitious? Will it be difficult to hold countries to account if they did not make a pledge?

Who will hold the accountability mechanism?

One of the key non-financial commitments to come out of June 8th was a promise to have an annual Global Report on nutrition that will include nutrition plans, resource spending, and progress updates. This is an amazing start, but more is needed. One proposal is to create an independent expert panel, similar to what has been developed for the Every Woman, Every Child campaign.  The Scaling Up Nutrition movement (SUN, which has been working with countries to develop reasonable costed plans, provides another potential home for an accountability mechanism.

How will data be gathered in a timely and effective way?

It is easy to say that your will reduce stunting by x% by 2020, but much harder to make it happen and to measure. Currently, most of the nationally representative data we have (which shows rates of stunting for a whole country) come from what are known as demographic and health surveys (DHS), which only happen every 5-10 years, take over a year to complete and are very expensive to organise and run. One of the major challenges in accountability is actually gathering data in the field to see how well countries are doing in reduce stunting. We need a system that gathers accurate data, in a timely fashion and can be used to evaluate countries progress, we cannot afford to wait 5-10 years for the next demographic and health survey.

The road to Rio

The Brazilian government has offered to host a nutrition event during the next Olympics, 1000 days after the initial summit, a key time to take stock of what is going well, what has not and how to move forward. It is critical that we have a well developed accountability mechanism developed to make sure we can see clear progress towards our goals. Undernutrition can only be ended through continued high level political will, quality nutrition programming and the financial resources to make that happen. Ensuring good quality monitoring and evaluation is in place is key to allowing this to happen.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of RESULTS.

Guest blog post: Laura Kerr meets David Cameron at the G8 in Enniskillen

This guest blog post comes from Laura Kerr, group leader of the Glasgow RESULTS group.

As a RESULTS campaigner my principle aim is to influence decision makers and fight for a world free from poverty. At no point did I consider I’d be sitting round a table with David Cameron, the most influential politician in the UK.

Laura Kerr at the G8Primarily, I was just coming to Belfast to join 10,000 other campaigners to make sure our voice was heard loud and clear in the last few days before the G8. So on Saturday 15th June, I boarded one of four very early buses from Glasgow and Edinburgh filled with passionate and very excited campaigners which were heading to Cairn-Ryan to get the boat to Belfast. On the way down we watched Enough Food For Everyone IF’s videos showing the achievements of the campaign so far and looked forward to what we were striving to achieve in the coming day.

On the boat campaigners from many different organisations across Scotland, individuals campaigners and even my mum and dad virtually took over one area of the boat to take photos, share campaigning tales and write messages on an IF ribbon that would make a giant IF structure at the Big IF event when we got there and then be passed to David Cameron to read.

It hadn’t really stopped raining since we left Glasgow and there appeared to be no intention for it to let up when we got to Belfast. But us Scots are used to this and even some quite heavy showers couldn’t dampen our spirits. We were here to send a message loud and clear to David Cameron and that’s what we were going to do!

IF Loch StuntIt seemed most campaigners in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast had the same idea and we entered the park to a lively crowd and some serious determination from speakers and musicians that today was still going to be great – which it was. We signed a giant inflatable IF, got pictures taken in a ‘tax haven’, got IF tattoo transfers and pretended to be G8 leaders with large wooden cut outs with their faces missing.

Throughout the whole day though, I couldn’t contain my excitement about a secret event I’d been asked to attend on Monday. Earlier that week I’d been asked to join an Enough Food For Everyone IF delegation that was meeting the Prime Minister to hand in an official letter asking him to act on tax, transparency and land rights at this years G8.

So on Monday morning at 4:30am I met IF Chairman Ben Jackson, Zambian Country Director Pamela Chisinga and singer Baaba Maal to head to the Loch Erne Resort with over 1.4 million messages of support for the campaign.

We got our photos taken as we handed Mr Cameron our letter and a scrap book of the campaigning events that have been taken place around the UK in the last six months. The book signifies the enormous public support for the campaign and illustrated that even in tough economic times the public demands that eradicating hunger is still a key priority.

After our photo we headed inside for a closed meeting with David Cameron when we got the chance to specify our main asks for him during the G8 – to tackle tax, transparency and land rights. I personally gave accounts of the hundreds of people I have spoken to concerned with small scale land owners who are being abused by large corporations who operate under a veil of secrecy. I asked him to demand G8 companies are transparent in large land deals and I think he said he agreed!

Mr Cameron thanked the group and the 1.4 million people who have taken action in this campaign for putting the pressure on him to make hunger a top priority for him this year. I am so proud to have been asked to be part of this campaigning moment, representing the views of so many people who have campaigned long and hard in the fight to end global hunger.

I hope our meeting on Monday morning allows him to enter later negotiations with the IF asks on tax, transparency and land at the front of his mind. He has the power to ensure everyone has enough to eat, let’s hope he makes this happen on 17th and 18th June.

Ending Tax Havens Will Free Up Funds For Nutrition

RESULTS in Belfast in the run-up to the G8

IMG_0526 - CopyThis is a post from Steve Lewis, RESULTS Head of Global Health Advocacy

As I travelled to Belfast this morning I reflected on what has been a busy week for those working to combat the scourge of undernutrition across the world. Last Saturday the UK government hosted a ‘Nutrition for Growth’ summit, where donors pledged up to $4.1 billion to tackle global malnutrition. Today the government hosts a 2nd  summit, this time on Tax, Transparency & Trade. And on Monday the G8 Leaders meet here in Northern Ireland. But what have discussions on Tax got to do with our work fighting undernutrition?

Firstly we wholeheartedly welcome the donor pledges made for Nutrition at last week’s Summit. But they fall far short of the total estimated $10 bn per year that is needed to implement a package of ten key nutrition interventions. That’s why this weeks dis

cussions are so important on ending tax dodging by companies based in developing countries. The revenue lost from global tax avoidance could pay many times over the sums needed to achieve zero hunger.

The OECD estimates that developing countries lose three times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year. Using tax havens is not illegal or proof of tax avoidance, but allows companies to dramatically lower the taxes they pay, move them to different jurisdictions (usually, away from the developing world) and keep financial transactions opaque.

The UK is currently responsible for one in five tax havens globally – more than any other country. Recent research by ActionAid has demonstrated the heavy involvement 

of British companies in tax haven-use with 98 of FTSE 100 companies using tax havens. G8 countries are collectively responsible for 40 per cent of tax havens.

Pressure from development agencies united in the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign has already led to positive movement in the financial sector. For example Margaret Hodge, chair of the influential Public Accounts Committee in the UK, has welcomed an initiative to rank Britain’s retailers by the tax they pay and their use of tax havens. The Fair Tax Campaign, created by the tax accountant Richard Murphy, has awarded 25 retailers a score between 0 and 15; those scoring more than 12 earn a “fair tax mark”. The companies that come top are those that pay all the tax that is expected from them.

Certain well-known global companies come bottom of the league, due to alleged use of tax havens, failure to pay “an acceptable rate of tax” on profits and not reporting financial figures on a country-by-country basis. (Unsurprisingly, these firms disputed the campaign’s figures, methodology and conclusions, many stating that they operate completely within the law and pay all tax that is due – which is very likely true, but unhelpful.)

So this is what takes me to Belfast this weekend as the

Steve in End Tax haven T shirtnext stage of the IF campaign puts pressure on G8 leaders to agree key improvements in the global tax system. I believe essential funds for Nutrition programmes and other development initiatives can be freed up by stopping wealth being siphoned out of the poorest countries into tax havens.  G8 leaders must deliver on their promise to “call time” on tax havens for the benefit of all countries, including the poorest.

 The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of RESULTS UK.