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Re: Social protection to protect and promote nutrition

Edward Mutandwa Mississippi State University, United States of America
07.06.2013
Edward

Dear Moderator,

Thank you for bringing up a very interesting set of questions but I am particularly focusing on the 3rd one. It is everyone's desire that malnutrition should be booted out of humanity. However, when you look at existing data for Sub Saharan Africa and the developing world in general, malnutrition seems to be on the increase although this is not true in some countries. Typically, this challenge is viewed as a structural problem, by the West and so they usually intervene by using food aid (best practice?). However, most eminent economists like FA Hayek, a Nobel Prize winning Austrian economist, indicated that transferring food aid suffers from knowledge and incentive problems. Thats why you find that food aid can be used to further the "nests of rationally self interested politicians" (Stigler, 1971). A recent book by Dr. Dambisa Moyo (an eminent African scholar) about Food Aid clearly indicates that food aid is not a solution to malnutrition. I think that we can have differing viewed on this point. So, then whats the solution? Western solutions suggest gravitation towards free market mechanism (more than 100 years of evidence). In other words, there is need for governments in the LDCs to create an institutional environment (property rights, laws, contract enforcement) that will guarantee that resources will flow to areas where there are most valued. Here political will is important.

We usually look to government to proffer solutions but what about in anarchic situations (where there are no governments) (see Buchanan) In these cases, capacity building of micro institutions will help alleviate malnutrition. An example is community driven orphan programs that focus on food and nutrition security needs of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs). In these programs people are self motivated and don't need external handouts. In a nutshell, there are antecedents that must be solved first before articulating good nutrition policies because a policy is just a piece of paper. It only becomes effective if institutional conditions and political will coincide.