Tag Archives: Malnutrition

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.

Nutrition for Growth Pledges: A great start but more is needed

sabrina-1This is a post from RESULTS UK’s Nutrition Advocacy Assistant, Sabrina de Souza.

It was a fantastic achievement. For decades we have known about the devastating impacts of hunger and undernutrition, yet for the first time in history leaders from all over the world united specifically around nutrition. With the commitments made we now have the potential to save 1.7 million lives from now until 2020. That’s a spectacular 625 children’s lives saved each day.

Some very promising, and exciting, announcements were made on the day. I am particularly pleased with the announcement to publish an annual global report on nutrition to monitor progress on tackling undernutrition. This will help us review our progress and share best practice, both in tracking resources spent but also in ensuring real impact against undernutrition.

While we should be pleased with what we have achieved – it was not small feat – we should not become complacent. This is just the beginning and there is still work to be done, some questions that need answering, and some areas that require a bit more fleshing out.

So my first question is… how big of a dent have we made in the nutrition financing? $4.1 billion was pledged by the Donor governments and Foundation donors for nutrition specific interventions and $19 billion for nutrition sensitive. But how big a dent will this make given the overall size of the problem?

Nutrition sensitive pledges

An estimated $19 billion  (£12.5 billion) was committed for nutrition sensitive interventions – interventions that address the underlying causes of undernutrition. This is indeed welcome, as evidence suggest that nutrition sensitive interventions will be needed to address more than three-quarters of stunting. However, it is unclear what proportion of this is new money and what was re-committed money that was already in place for programmes, such as water and sanitation, agriculture and gender empowerment, that fit under the umbrella definition of nutrition sensitive interventions. Interventions like these are good in their own right, but, unsurprisingly, evidence shows us that they need to be actively designed and implemented with nutritional outcomes in mind if they are to have impact on nutrition.

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Live Blog from the Nutrition for Growth Summit 9am

Today Saturday 8 June 2013 governments are meeting in London to confront the scandal of hunger and undernutrition. Hosted by  the UK, Brazil, and CIFF, the Childrens Investment Fund Foundation, today will be a moment for serious pledges  that will allow 34 high burden countries to begin to reduce stunting.

Sitting here in the ornate headquarters of UNILEVER I am surrounded by delegations from many countries.  RESULTS will be placing regular blogs during the morning. Please follow the blog for news as it happens.

Keep Calm & Pledge Big, Unilever MiguelVP

Steve

Head of Global Health Advocacy

Recommended Listening: “Why Poverty?” session on Nutrition

If you have a few minutes to spare today I recommended listening to Lawrence Haddad, Director of the Institute of Development Studies in Brighton, on BBC Radio 3′s “Why Poverty?” session.

In the interview he reflects on the causes of continuing widespread undernutrition and suggests new solutions to fight it.

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 Blog by Sabrina de Souza, Nutrition Advocacy Assistant

Food for Thought this World Hunger Day

Poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child’s life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom.

Today, on World Hunger Day, Save the Children released a new report ‘Food for Thought.’ This report makes the case for increased investment in nutrition, arguing that investment in nutrition is not only the right thing to do, it’s a down-payment on future prosperity.

The evidence presented in this report shows that preventing undernutrition in children and women in the crucial 1,000-day window – from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday – could greatly increase children’s ability to learn and earn, as well as boost the prosperity of whole countries.

foodforthought

DOWNLOAD THIS REPORT (PDF)

Today one-quarter of the world’s children are at risk of under-performing at school because of chronic malnutrition (stunting), one of the most severe manifestations and consequences of undernutrition. Poor nutrition, in the first 1000 days of life, can have long-term impacts on children’s brain development and cognition. The physical impact of undernutrition means that even when children have access to education they often achieve less than their full potential. According to the report, compared to non-stunted children, children who are stunted:

  • score 7% lower on maths test
  • are 19% less likely to be able to read a simple sentence aged 8, and 12% less likely to be able to write a simple sentence
  • are 13% less likely to be in the appropriate grade for their age at school.

“We have made huge progress in tackling child deaths, but having a quarter of the world’s children at risk of under-performing at school will have grave consequences for the fight to end global poverty,” says Justin Forsyth, the charities chief executive.

Stunting can have severe implications when a child reaches adulthood. Children who are stunted often earn as much as 20% less in adulthood. Therefore, they are less able to contribute to the financial needs of their households, increasing the risk of families being locked in a cycle of poverty and poor health. The economic burdens are far reaching and extend further than the household. According to the new report, the global economic impact of continuing to neglect undernutrition could be up to $125bn (£83bn).

Nutrition for Growth

Despite being one of the most cost effective forms of development assistance, spending on nutrition is less than 0.4 percent of global development spending.

The Prime Ministers “Nutrition for Growth” Hunger Summit, on June 8th, offers the perfect opportunity to bring new energy to this neglected issue and secure a healthy and prosperous future for millions of children.

Blog by Sabrina de Souza, Nutrition Advocacy Assistant

Nutrition advocacy tour: a week with Walter Nyika

Todays blog comes from Mugove Walter Nyika, our southern advocate from Zimbabwe who joined us for our nutrition advocacy tour last week.

Saoirse Fitzpatrick was a student on attachment at the Rescope Programme in Malawi 2 years ago and now she is an Advocacy Campaign Assistant at RESULTS UK , an organisation that is working to end poverty. I arrived at RESULTS UK on Monday to participate in a campaign to lobby the UK government to contribute to a global fund that will help fight chronic undernutrition which is affecting 165 million children. The campaign  is building up to the Hunger Summit that the UK government will be hosting on June the 8th. That afternoon I had an interview with Michael Hodgkinson of Think Africa Press, a leading online publication on Africa.

Walter blog imageOn Tuesday we started with a meeting of the grassroots, who are members of the community dedicated to take part in the campaigns that RESULTS UK are working on. In the meeting  we shared on the experiences of the Rescope Programme in its work of promoting agro-ecology in school communities in eastern and southern Africa. After the meeting we proceeded to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster together with the members from the grassroots and had an organised tour of the complex which is packed with history.  In the House of Lords we saw the dent on the centre table which was caused by the ring worn by Winston Churchill as he banged on the table while addressing parliament and in one of the hall ways we saw the spot at which a former Prime Minister was assassinated. The highlight of the day was the green carding system where ordinary people walk into parliament and request to meet their MP to discuss any issue on their mind. Through this system we managed to meet 2 MPs one of whom was Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton who is also a representative of the Green Party.

In the evening I attended a dinner at Westminster which was hosted by Lord Cameron of Dillington, who is the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Food and Farming for Development. In the course of the dinner I chatted with the Permanent Secretary at DFID, the President of Unilever Food Division, the Director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), an editor at the Lancet, the Health Correspondents at the BBC, the Guardian and the Financial Times, the CEO at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the Director of the Institute of Development Studies and the Executive Director of RESULTS UK. Lord Cameron appreciated a copy of the More and Better Food book.  I found this dinner to be the most strategic of the week’s  events.

On Wednesday we were back at Parliament and met 3 more MPs and Bishop Anthony of the Anglican Diocese of Hereford who sits in the House of Lords. On the same day we had a meeting with Dominic Foster, the Coordinator/Secretary for the APPG on Food and Farming for Development. On Thursday we went to Norwich and visited the John Innes Institute which is working on a Genetic Modification biofortication process to add zinc and iron nutrients into the endosperm (flesh) of the wheat and barley grains – It is wise to know your elements even if they may be enemies! In the evening we had a panel discussion at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at which I made a presentation together with Samuel Hauenstein-Swan, a Senior Policy Director at Action Against Hunger and Steve Wiggens who is a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute.

On Friday we had an integrated messaging brainstorming event with the RESULTS team and then went off to the BBC to be interviewed by Paul of the BBC Africa radio. If interested, check the BBC website for the programme on the 8th of June. In the afternoon I had a meeting with Hannah Torkington and Anna Cooper at the Tudor Trust.  By the time I went back to RESULTS for the debriefing meeting I was feeling as if I had been on this schedule for a whole month. What a week it has been!

Please feel free to contact me at rescope@seedingschools.org for more information about nutrition and the work I am doing with Rescope.

Rob Green reports on the Nutrition Advocacy Day at Parliament

Last Tuesday, 14 grassroots volunteers headed to Parliament with our southern advocate- Walter Nyika- to speak with their MPS about global undernutrition ahead of the ‘Nutrition for Growth’ event on June 8th. This guest blog post about the day comes from Rob Green, the new group leader of our new RESULTS group in Cardiff.

2013-05-14 11.40.04It was my first time meeting the RESULTS team and my first time attending one of their Advocacy Days at Parliament.  The day began with a briefing from Walter Nyika, our honoured guest from Zimbabwe, who spoke to us about his work on permaculture and nutrition in Malawi.  After an inspiring talk, we headed to Parliament to meet with our MPS. My local MP of Cardiff South and Penarth is Stephen Doughty, a leader politician and former head of Oxfam Cyrmu.

After requesting to meet with Stephen at Parliaments central lobby, I was pleased to find out that he was available to meet with me. The meeting couldn’t have gone any better!  Stephen was extremely interested in the work RESULTS are doing and was keen to support their future campaigns. Within a minute he agreed to write the Rt. Hon Justine Greening, calling on her to commit at least 149 million per year, over multiple years, at the ‘Nutrition for Growth’ event to funding financially sound, national nutrition plans and by the end he wanted to give us a shout out in The Chamber. He also kindly agreed to speak at any future RESULTS events and was keen to help build the RESULTS group in Cardiff.

Other grassroots had similarly successful meetings. Reg Davis, leader of the Poole group, met with Robert Simms MP and Tom Maguire, leader of the central London group, met with Caroline Lucas MP, the former leader of the Green Party. Both MPs were extremely interested in the issue of global undernutrition and were keen to bring it to the attention of Justine Greening.

All in all, the advocacy day was an absolutely fantastic start to my time at RESULTS and I am now motivated to do more with the great team.

TB and Undernutrition: A Vicious Circle

Tuberculosis (TB) and Undernutrition are two of our key issues at Results. Both have a devastating impact on the lives of the poor in developing countries, yet both have a worryingly low profile in the aid and development discourse in donor countries. They are also two issues that are closely intertwined.

Credit: UNITAID

Credit: UNITAID

It has long been known that there is an association between TB and malnutrition, although it is difficult to determine what the nutritional status of individuals with TB was before the onset of the disease. Malnutrition makes people more susceptible to the development of active TB, and  active TB contributes to the development of malnutrition. This vicious circle impacts not only on individuals but can easily transfer to their families and their communities.

Tuberculosis patients have lower Body Mass Index (BMI), muscle mass and subcutaneous stores of fat than control groups. A study in Malawi found that the differences can amount to as much as 20% between healthy individuals and those with active TB. This may be because some participants in the study suffered malnutrition before contracting TB, but the disease also increases demand for energy which contribute to increased weight loss if that demand cannot be met.

In full treatment, TB patients can quickly recover the weight that they have lost, but researchers have consistently found that muscle-mass and protein levels are much slower to recover. Even in patients deemed to be ‘cured’ of TB, these nutrient deficiencies can persist. This is one reason that comprehensive care for TB patients is vital long after the body has been cleared of bacteria.

There is also evidence to suggest that malnutrition, and the consequential weakness in immune function, makes it more likely that exposure to TB bacteria will result in full tuberculosis, rather than development of the latent form of the disease that is found in 2 billion people around the world. Therefore, improvements in nutrition for people who are most at risk of developing TB  should directly decrease the number of TB infections, improve treatment prognoses and save lives.

On 8th June the UK and CIFF will host a global summit called Nutrition for Growth to raise attention, and funding for long-term nutrition programmes, prioritising at first 20 countries that have a high-burden of undernutrition. RESULTS is calling on the UK to make a pledge of £150million a year, or £750million over five years. A multi-year pledge is important to give stability to developing countries and allow for long-term planning and scaling up of nutrition-specific programming within stronger health systems. An improved global investment in nutrition will not only lead to a reduction in child deaths but will have an important long-term impact in reducing diseases as adults.

Good nutrition won’t definitely stop you getting tuberculosis, but it certainly gives you a better chance of fighting it successfully. If the world truly wants to see a reduction in the burden of global diseases like TB, ensuring good nutrition for all would be an excellent first step.

Note: For a more comprehensive review of evidence linking TB and undernutrition, click here