Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

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    • Please find here below additional specific technical comments from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thanks. 

      • Types of data included: The report offers a conceptual framework for food security and nutrition determinants and outcomes and a data cycle from conceptualization of data needs to data generation and use. From my perspective what is missing in these introductory frameworks is a holistic description of the types of data of interest. There is no discussion of the key types of data that are being considered in this report. These would include: dietary intake, anthropometry, micronutrient status, food security, food safety, cost of healthy diet, food loss and waste. A table of the types of data this report is considering, along with the level of data collection (individual, household, sub-national, national, etc.), and perhaps a few other variables, would be quite helpful in the introductory section. In addition, the report is inconsistent in its incorporation of agricultural data. Agricultural data is mentioned in some sections of the report (but not in the title), but it is not comprehensively treated, so it is not clear whether the intention is to include all types of agricultural data or just select elements.
      • Lack of prior data: Relevant to the point above, the discussion of constraints in research infrastructure on pp. 12-14 includes a very lengthy list of types of “prior data” that are missing or inadequate. This discussion reads a bit like a laundry list and includes types of data that extend from the Women’s Empowerment in Agricultural Index to agricultural land rights. This list of insufficient data from sectors adjacent to food security and nutrition is too sprawling, a bit disorganized, and is not actionable. Which are the key types of “adjacent” data that are necessary for food security and nutrition analysis and how can food security and nutrition data efforts improve the availability and use of such data?
      • Out-of-date assessments: In a few places the report seems to include information that does not reflect current conditions. Two examples: 1) Box 4 on the lack of data for nutrition assessments quotes the Malabo Montpellier Panel Report from 2017: “…there is no functioning global dietary database.” In fact, in the last few years FAO has created and is the host of a functioning global dietary database that is growing with additional data sets every month. 2) INFOODS is held up in a few places as a positive collaborative initiative success story, and while INFOODS has a wonderful vision and achieved important work in the past, it has had practically no funding for many years and has been stalled in many of its ambitions, despite its skilled and enthusiastic network of members.
      • Examples of use of food security and nutrition data for policy-making: The questions guiding the online consultation ask for specific examples of the use of food security and nutrition data to inform policies, and FAO has a relevant report, co-authored with Intake, that is pending approval with FAO and should be published soon: “Global Report on the State of Dietary Data.” The report includes numerous examples of specific countries using dietary data to inform health, nutrition, and food policies and programs (see section 2.3).

      With these comments, we would like to acknowledge the effort borne by the contributors to and the importance of the analysis in this zero-draft report.

      We fully believe in the work of the HLPE of the CFS and in the importance of bringing greater attention to the need to understand what is happening in the agriculture sector. We’re pleased to have supported the Data Workstream in the Multi-Year Program of Work, alongside the governments of Uganda and the United States.

      Major problems in the data space, such as (i) inadequate capacity of countries to produce, analyse, and use statistics; (ii) inadequate funding of statistics at the global, national, regional and local levels; (iii) the need for improved forecasting and other techniques to complement survey-based techniques; and (iv) transparency of, ownership of, and open accessibility to agricultural statistics, are yet to be solved if we are to achieve the ambitious goals we set in 2015 with the Agenda2030, and in particular the SDG 2 and its related indicators.

      The opportunity offered by this HLPE report, therefore, is timely and significant. The CFS process is a means of engaging a diverse set of stakeholders on very significant questions: what do we know about the world’s agriculture, food and nutrition and how might we strengthen our understanding? The V0 draft surveys the field and delves into a construct for the answers, which we hope will be a point of emphasis in this process. The report itself and the process as a whole could be made more impactful if they delve into a rationale on how and why decision makers should tackle this issue as a means of addressing the increase in the number of hungry, the lack of adequate access to food security and nutrition and the burgeoning climate crisis. All of these issues require improved statistics to make evidence-based decisions. This report is a generational opportunity to address the why, how and what of agricultural statistics at a higher level.

      The urgency, that we therefore have, is to make sure that agricultural statistics become a priority for leaders the world over. We suggest the report directly address:

      • Why we need improved agriculture, food and nutrition security statistics.
      • Quantify the scale of the challenges that we collectively face at the national and global levels.
      • Propose possible solutions and partnerships to address this – both current and unexplored.

      Answers to these key questions will empower the CFS to assess and consider how its Member States and diverse stakeholders might collectively contribute. This would strengthen its impact, that of the HLPE and the workstream under which this work is being conducted.

      We thank the CFS and the HLPE for this opportunity to contribute and would welcome an opportunity for our technical experts to provide further input, as appropriate.