Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Werner Schultink UNICEF, United States of America
20-12-2012

The current MDGs tried to connect hunger and poverty reduction in one goal, using a set of indicators which were not optimal. Undernutrition (underweight in pre-school children) was one of the indicators linked linked to hunger reduction. We know now that this indicator is far from optimal and that efforts to reduce underweight may even lead to negative outcomes such as obesity increase.

We do also know now that inadequate nutrient absorption during the period of pregnancy and the first 2 years of a child's life leads to stunted growth, compromised brain development, reduced school performance and income earning capacity. Stunting is further associated with increased risk of non-communicable disease in adult life. Prevention of stunting should therefore be at the core of a new goal on food and nutrition security. The ultimate goal of food security should be to achieve a well-nourished, healthy, optimally developed population. With our knowledge that stunting is a sensitive, measurable, and objective indicator that can predict development outcomes and the fact that its prevention contributes to the reduction of poverty and inequity makes stunting a very strong indicator.

Stunting prevention offers a very good opportunity to improve welfare of populations in a very cost effective manner. Proof exists that reduction of stunting prevalence at scale is do-able through a mix of interventions which include the improvement of household food security, but also include measures such as improvement of caring capacity.