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Re: Social protection to protect and promote nutrition

Charlotte Dufour and Martina Park FAO, Italy
08.07.2013
FSN Forum

We (the Mainstreaming Nutrition Team, Nutrition Division FAO) have been following with great enthusiasm your contributions to the FSN discussions on Social Protection and Nutrition and we welcome the various proposals and suggestions of how to shape social protection programmes to maximise positive impact on nutrition security.

Good nutrition is a prerequisite for peoples’ good health, learning capacity and productivity. Taking into consideration how social protection schemes impact nutrition can therefore benefit the overall outcome of social protection schemes. Social protection can for example increase food expenditure, food consumption and dietary diversity via food, cash and voucher transfers and price subsidies, smoothing consumption during lean seasons and/or periods of crisis. But the implications of social protection programmes on nutrition go beyond the mechanisms related to food security.

Our team recently prepared a document on Social Protection and Nutrition, and we welcome you to consult the document on line: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/wa_workshop/docs/SocialProtection-Nutrition_FAO_IssuePaper_Draft.pdf. Please note that this is work in progress (draft version), and that we welcome any comments or suggestions.

Below, we would like to share some of the main points raised in the above mentioned paper:

Main issues for policy-makers to consider in the design, formulation and implementation of nutrition-enhancing social protection measures:

  1. Ensure the nutritionally vulnerable are adequately targeted.
  2. Embed school feeding into social protection programmes to incentivise school enrolment and attendance, and to improve food and nutrition security of school-age children.
  3. Look for innovative delivery schemes (e.g. use of mobile phone-based or electronic money transfers) which are convenient for the target group and take into consideration time constraints and work burden, especially of care givers responsible for the feeding of young children, the sick and the elderly.
  4. Review labour market regulations (e.g. on minimum wages, occupational health and safety, etc.) and social security for agricultural work, which can serve as levers to promote positive nutrition outcomes via the income pathway.
  5. Enhance social networks through support to farmers associations, cooperatives, producer groups, farmer field schools, etc. which will in turn contribute to the generation and consolidation of social safety nets.
  6. Adopt a rights-based approach to social protection, which can promote social inclusion, thereby contributing to improved nutrition and food security outcomes.

Good practices to foster cross-sectoral linkages:

  1. Invest in public works programmes of building, maintaining and improving infrastructure (e.g. irrigation/water systems, terracing, feeder roads, market places and/or food storage facilities), supporting food production (availability) which in turn can lower and/or stabilise food prices, and therefore improve food access and stability. Public works programmes also offer temporary employment options in return for in-kind and/or cash or voucher transfers.
  2. Setup home-grown school feeding programmes, which improve school children’s nutrition while creating market opportunities for local food and agriculture producers, in particular for smallholders.
  3.  Promote standardised data collection and compatible information systems across programmes, addressing interrelated and coexisting vulnerabilities which are underlying causes of malnutrition.

We hope to pursue these discussions and the promotion of social protection for food and nutrition security in collaboration with you in the future!

Best wishes,

Charlotte Dufour and Martina Park
on behalf of the Nutrition Mainstreaming Team
Nutrition Division (ESN)
Economic and Social Development Department
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations