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Re: The contribution of the private sector and civil society to improve nutrition

Robynne Anderson facilitator of the discussion , Canada
17.09.2013
FSN Forum

Can partnerships work?

In the first week of the discussion, we have seen both faith and scepticism about the role of private sector and civil society. Occasionally, there has been a falling into old habits that the discussion is a “for” and “against” model.

Overarchingly, it seems there is an understanding of the need for both, as exemplified by Kuruppacharil V.Peter, World Noni Research Foundation, India: “Without the active involvement of civil society and private sector, the whole exercise will be ineffective.”

Coalitions like Farming First, cited in Maria Antip’s submission contain a broad range of stakeholders from smallholder farmers to scientists, business to NGOs and has done a lot to promote the importance of women in agriculture, climate change adaptation, and the links between nutrition and food security. Other contributors have been able to cite in-country programs for school feeding and farmer supply.

Working together on policy making breeds a more integrated approach to challenges and better outcomes, as described by UGAgri Group7, University of Guyana, Guyana: “A partnership between the elements of civil society and the private sector- where it is possible- should strive to create channels for agricultural policymaking and dialogue between all stakeholders in general, and small farm owners in particular. Simultaneously, they need to collaborate to facilitate, enable and drive agricultural research on nutrition and to push for meaningful policies and decisions to be derived from this body of research and information.”

Seeing the continuity between the actors in the debate – from civil society to private sector and respecting their roles is an essential and inevitable consequence of the discussion on nutrition. It is similar to the process that has seen greater linkages between agriculture, nutrition and health, as led by FAO in the 2010 International Symposium on Food and Nutrition Security: Food-Based Approaches for Improving Diets and Raising Levels of Nutrition and by IFPRI in their ground breaking 2011 conference Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health.

Ultimately, it seems that this leads to actual programming that is more complete. Chris Manyamba, Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well Being, University of Pretoria, South Africa explains the progress in his country: “There is need for effective coordination across the sectors to define multi-sectorial and integrated approaches to improve nutrition among school children. This is being done by strengthening linkages between nutrition and agricultural, education, social protection, water and sanitation and addressing issues of food fortification and food safety.“ That seems well worth replicating, so how can we do it? How can better partnerships be built? Is it hard to overcome entrenchment in civil society and private sector relationships? What kind of enabling environment encourages all actors to work together?

We need more of your insightful views.

Robynne