This member participated in the following discussions
Please find the answers to Nyasha's questions in italics below:
What are the key institutional and governance challenges to the delivery of cross-sectoral and comprehensive social protection policies that protect and promote nutrition of the most vulnerable? Your contributions can cover all instititutional and governance issues you know to affect the delivery of cross-sectoral nutrition enhancing social protection policies.
Both serious institutional and governance can be put under the same umbrella of political constraints at the decision making level which are still very much top-down. Attempts at cross-sectoral have historically failed since there is the ideological underpinning of elites running state affairs. This will cotinue to fail unless a counterpower is achieved through active empowerment and mobilization of claim holders.
e.g. who are the stakeholders: claim holders and duty bearers rather...
power balance: absolutely the key
intersectoral conflicts, intersectoral coordination, decentralization: all these play a role, but secondary to power issues
and community participation absolutely the key
institutional capacity, financial capacity, roles and responsibilities for oversight holding the state and private sector accountable
legislative accountability, inclusiveness, rights based approach absolutely the key.
1. In discussing this question, please provide examples and case studies of successful or failed cross sectoral social protection policies that promote nutrition: would I be exaggerating if ratio success:failure in this is >50:1? reasons why your examples succeeded or failed political as per above.
For example in the concept note Brazil's Zero Hunger programme is given as a successful example of a national and multisectoral social protection system promoting nutrition: the political thrust in Brazil is undeniable!. Another example given is the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC)’s Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction in Bangladesh: I declare my ignorance about this one.
2. Please recommend possible solutions to the institutional and governance challenges that you identify from your experiences, examples/case studies or literature. A massive human rights/right to food learning cum empowerment effort is needed both for claim holders and duty bearers followed by social mobilization of the former to demand their rights.
I'll be glad to elaborate if challenged.
Let us now, once and for all, stop talking about safety nets! This is what leads to mere tinkering within the system. The ongoing casino capitalism with its global restructuring, creates the problems, and food and nutrition professionals are supposed to pick up the pieces? Just so that poor and marginalised people do not revolt? Who is cheating whom here? We need to stop victimising poor people and them throwing them bread-crumbs. What about changing the system that makes safety nets for poor people necessary to begin with?
please find below my responses - in italics - to the questions raised by the facilitator in her latest post:
What are the main issues for policy-makers to consider in the design, formulation and implementation of nutrition-enhancing social protection measures?
· Studies have shown that the first 1000 days of life are a crucial window for preventing irreversible undernutrition like stunting. Yet other research rebuts this position by showing that catch-up growth is still possible even after the first 1000 days of life. From your experiences, who should we target when implementing nutrition enhancing social protection measures?
Under 3 years
· Should we only always give cash or food transfers to women?
Not only cash, but cash has proven to work as social protection. Food transfers have a bad track record other than for emergencies: No.
· Should we only always target the poorest? Rural households? Or should we consider universal social protection schemes?
As a Human Rights obligation always start with poorest and most marginalized. No option here.
· Recent research shows that stunting has far reaching consequences even affecting income earning capacities in adulthood and on a national scale leading to two –three percent losses in GDP (Bhutta, Sachdev et al. 2008). In that case, should we prioritize eliminating stunting over wasting or underweight? Or we should not prioritize one over the other?
I may be conservative here, but I would prioritize eliminating stunting.
· What are some of the lessons you have learned, best practices concerning social protection measures implemented to enhance food security and nutrition?
E,g cash transfers
do not work other than emergencies
is an educational and not a nutrition intervention!,
I see reference to the issue of food sovereignty importantly missing here!!
Let us be honest. Food and nutrition issues get little policy attention from decision-makers. The lack of action is not due to a lack of knowledge by the latter. Other gaps are at the root - gaps that denote a deliberate choice of not attending to food and nutrition matters. It is ultimately power relations that affect policy choices. Policy processes can only be fully understood if analyzed politically. Consciousness raising and social mobilization are indispensable to influence policy processes. Research organizations have hardly engaged in this consciousness raising; most of them are rather conservative; they think that if decision-makers have more and better knowledge they will indeed take urgently needed decisions. But decision makers never go against their own interests. What is missing is to focus on what to do about the need for structural changes that address the basic causes of preventable hunger and malnutrition by organizing pressure from below; thus the importance of empowering claim holders.
2. You mention pro-poor economic growth policies. I feel uncomfortable with any use of pro-poor. I have many times written that we rather need poverty alleviation (or rather disparity reduction!!) policies that are pro-nutrition. There is a big difference there. Pro-poor has the connotation of throwing a few crumbs, but leave them in poverty kind'a thing. It victimizes the poor.
3. This relates to your Q3:
How can we mobilize the political will necessary to put policies for hunger reduction and improved nutrition higher on the list of political priorities?
- Should we not be mobilizing politically for disparity reduction at least in parallel if not before?
- Can we change political will of elites with entrenched interests? Is this an illusion? Are we not really talking about exerting de-facto counter-power to their political priorities?
Claudio in Ho Chi Minh City
I have been participating in the debate through a group of CSOs giving input to FAO.
We have all been frustrated at the reluctance of the drafters to add in the text a mention to the alternative use of the concept of food sovereignty.
I do not need to add here, to the persons who have the expertise to contribute to this debate the important differences between F+NS and food sovereignty.
We are not advocating a total switch to this terminology; just an acknowledgement and a reason why this may not be a choice for FAO would help bringing the document up to the present.