IDS welcomes commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition at Global Hunger Summit
British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a global hunger summit, alongside Brazilian Vice President, Michel Terner, bringing together representatives from international governments, charities and businesses at Downing Street on the day of the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. They urged the world to take decisive action before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio to transform the life chances of millions of children by improving their nutrition.
Also in attendance were Somalia-born British double-gold medallist, Mo Farah, who has set up his own charity to help victims of the severe drought in the Horn of Africa, and Internataional Development Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell, who said after the Summit: 'I am determined that the UK will help lead and galvanise global efforts to tackle malnutrition. That would be a great Olympic legacy from London 2012.'
IDS and its partners played a key role in providing some of the background research presented to attendees at the high level event, such as the report on Nutrition Data and Accountability produced by the Human Development Resource Centre.
The scourge of undernutrition
Undernutrition affects 180 million young children worldwide and leads to brain damage, immune system malfunction, weaker schooling attainment, lower workforce productivity, greater poverty and a greater susceptibility to chronic disease later in life. IDS research shows that in countries with high levels of undernutrition, such as India, economic growth alone is not enough to prevent the devastating impacts of stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for height). In many countries progress in fighting undernutrition has not been possible in the absence of political leadership.
Equipping governments and citizens with the tools to assess existing political commitment and to hold each other to account for their level of commitment is vital to maintain momentum in the fight against this invisible but highly corrosive condition. The Hunger Reduction Commitment Index, a joint project between IDS, Save the Children UK, ActionAid and Trocaire, aims to do just that. The Index tracks governments' efforts to tackle hunger and undernutrition, and will be expanded in to include the commitment to reduce child undernutrition, with results due out in early 2013.
No more stunting by 2032 Games - IDS Director blogs on the Global Hunger Summit
In response to the Global Hunger Summit, IDS Director and nutrition expert, Lawrence Haddad wrote on his blog Development Horizons: 'It is too early to tell if the Event was a success. From those who were there, it is clear that the right commitments were made by a range of governments and companies..'.
He continued '...it was a bold move to hold a summit on a very serious topic just before a big party to celebrate the end of a terrific Games. David Cameron did not have to do it, and he did, so kudos to him and Andrew Mitchell.'
Read the whole of Lawrence Haddad's response: London 2012's Legacy should be 'no more stunting' by the 2032 Games
Food price volatility needs to be tackled - other perspectives from IDS bloggers
IDS Research Fellow, Naomi Hossain, based in the Participation, Power and Social Change Research Team expressed concern that the issue of food price volatility did not seem to be addressed at the Summit.
In a blog published on Participation, Power and Social Change, Dr Hossain writes 'the Global Hunger Summit was a golden opportunity to the causes of global food prices volatility - the single greatest threat to nutrition in the 21st century.' She suggests that while 'putting hunger high on the global policy should be a good thing... the Summit failed to connect with the concerns of poor people...'
Research from the IDS-Oxfam Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility project (funded by DFID, Irish Aid, and Oxfam GB) is finding that many poor people are not so much 'hungry'...but rather struggle to feed families adequately in the face of an apparently endless series of steep price rises. Higher living costs mean more women entering poorly paid and over-crowded job markets, scrabbling around for bargains, scrounging and 'borrowing'.
Dr Hossain writes that 'in our Indonesian sites, working women say it is now cheaper to eat in the local warung [local store often selling food] than to cook at home; nobody knows what that means for children's nutrition, but it won’t be good'.
Read the whole of Naomi Hossain's response: No gong for Cameron's Hunger Summit.
Image credit: Patric Tsui. Image downloaded from Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Flickr)
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