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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Nutrition-sensitive social protection programmes around the world – What’s being done and to what effect?

Claudio Schuftan
Claudio SchuftanPHMViet Nam

Dear Lucy and Ahmed,

My serious concerns on the matter of this consultation all revolve around question 1.

1. Setting the stage: Why are you interested in Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection? What is Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection? What makes a social protection intervention “nutrition-sensitive”?

Your intro piece has, in my view, multiple flaws that will bias the consultation. Let me explain in the form of bullets.

You call for:

Making social safety nets and targeting work better. Safety nets have been designed to throw a crumb of bread to the needy without pulling them out of poverty. So we target ‘the poor’ (grr!) and do nothing about the system that perpetuates their poverty. Ultimately and dispassionately, it is all about avoiding social upheaval that will threaten the haves.

Social protection. To improve social protection, it would be nice to start asking the affected what they think needs to be done, no? This is a fundamental human rights principle… I feel the call may be bringing responses from top-down initiatives around the world which will mostly be localized with little replication prospects.

Stakeholders. (grr!) Isn’t it high time we begin using claim holders and duty bearers instead?

Poverty reduction vs disparity reduction. When will we understand that the challenge is not poverty reduction, but disparity reduction? The pie is only so big; we do not need to make it grow with the same slicing; we must re-slice it far more equitably…. and nutrition-sensitive social protection will simply not do this.

Equity vs equality. You use equity where you should be using equality. Equity is a justice concept; equality is a human rights concept (and nutrition and social protection are HR issues).

Increasing productivity. For God’s sake, we are trying to deal with a HR issue. We do NOT need an economic justification. Nutrition and social protection are a high priority, because HR are being violated. Point finale!

‘Investments in nutrition and early childhood development are therefore (therefore?) key determinants of long term economic growth’.  Investing in nutrition is a HR priority, no more, no less. Forget the economic growth justification. Growth for what? for more 99/1? For more depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation and precipitating climate change? We simply have to stop using this fallacious argument.

‘Programs targeted (?? see above) to enhance their impact on nutrition and lock in future human capital’. Ayayay! More of the same…. Human capital is such a neoliberal term. What we need is to lock-in is the respect and fulfillment of, in this case, the human right to nutrition and the human right to social protection.

Activities related to nutrition education and micronutrient supplementation… Nutrition education to teach people what they cannot afford? We have over 4 decades of negative experiences on this. Micronutrient supplementation is a darling of donors….it does not require addressing the thorny issue of the political roots of malnutrition as stunting more does.

I hope this contributes early-on to guide the agenda of the consultation. If this perspective is not brought up in Moscow, we may as well stay in our ivory towers.

Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City