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

Saba Mebrahtu UNICEF, Nepal
7-01-2013

Dear All,

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.  

Multi-setor partnership is crucial for achieving the goal of zero stunted children less than 2 years old - which in turn requires high level political commitment to bring all the key sectors on board, and to committ to work towards attaining this goal in a coherent and coordinated manner.  

(1) Ensuring 100% access to adequate food all year round is essential but it is not sufficient - other causes of chronic under-nutrition need to be addressed simultaneously - such as access to improved sanitation, safe water and hygiene.  This will require for instance - the agriculture sector partnering with Ministry responsible for water resource management and promotion of hygiene practices - which is often the domain of two Ministries - Public Health + Water resouce management etc.. 

(2) My concern would be that the poor with very limited or no access to productive resources (e.g poor landless laborers) will be missed from agriculture based interventions which aim to improve productivity of small-scale farm households - such as disadvantaged families or vulnerable population groups. An approach that has been proven effetive is social transfers (in kind or cash tansfers) to protect the most vulnerable from food insecurity, hunger and chronic under-nutrition.   In that case, strenghtening partnership between health/nutritin and social protection sectors is crucial to ensure that   these schemes have adequate duration - during the narrow window of opportnity (pregnancy to two years of age), adequate value, and are combined with nutrition education for better nutritional outcomes.

(3) I am also concerned that gender is not emphasized enough - there are a number of gender related factors that need to be tackled (e.g. early marriage, heavy workload and poor care during pregnancy which are largely due to traditional beliefs and women's low social status).    So, unless maternal care and nutrition is seriously tackled - it will be difficult to achieve the zero stunting goal by the age of two years.  Here Civil Society could play an important role - to help bring about social and behaviour change.  I feel that this is not emphasized enough especially in the above five objectives. 

All in all agriculture and food-based approach needs to be well integrated in a coherent manner with WASH/Social Protection/gender to achieve results,  and an important pre-requisite is a high level political commitment to coordinate the key relevant Ministries including Civil Society.