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104 posts categorized "Foreign Aid Reform"
Get ready. Next month Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide will team-up with other partners to celebrate the first 1,000 days of a global movement to make nutrition a key development goal. To update everyone on where our “Sustaining Political Commitments” event sits in “nutrition history,” we’ve put together an interactive timeline (above) that highlights some of the biggest moments since 2008. Use the side arrows to click through the slide-view, or click the "timeline" tab on the top left corner for a more linear perspective. Click on each event for videos, images, links, and a detailed description.
A lot has happened since September 2010, when developing countries founded the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and donors—led by the United States, Ireland, and the United Nations—launched the 1,000 Days call to action to support it. What started as the recommendations of a scholarly series in a British medical journal has morphed into a global partnership. To date, 35 countries with high rates of maternal and child malnutrition have joined SUN. The movement has grown rapidly as governments and civil society leaders increasingly recognize the irreversible damage that early childhood malnutrition can inflict on whole generations—and conversely, the tremendous return on national investment in preventing this damage.
The 2013 Hunger Report is chock-full of stories on maternal and child nutrition, stunting, the 1,000 Day window, and the SUN movement. It’s all related to our recommendation for a bull’s-eye goal of ending mass hunger and extreme poverty by 2040.
Download the report at www.hungerreport.org to get the full story on Bread for the World’s recommendations regarding nutrition in the first 1,000 days.
Posted by Bread on May 20, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Good news for data nerds: The OECD has just released its latest disposable income, poverty and inequality numbers for all of its 34 member states. You can access the entire data set here, but don't miss the the fun interacive tools that were released along with it. OECD was kind enought to make them embeddable:
So what are the key stories in this beautifully arranged chart? You may not find them all that surprising:
- Poverty and inequality have grown in OECD countries since the global recession of 2007-2008.
- The United States still has greater-than-average inequality and relative poverty than the typical OECD country.
- The United States has less pre-tax/transfer poverty than most other countries.
- The overall OECD unemployment rate has eased slightly to 8.0%.
- Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark shared the lowest poverty rate of member countries, while Israel bore the highest at 21%.
This data release is well timed, just before the 39th G-8 summit to be held in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland between June 17-18. As member states gather to focus on shared global development goals like advancing trade, ensuring tax compliance, and promoting greater transparency, the OECD offers a humbling reminder that poverty, hunger, and inequality are on the rise across the developed world. A global committment to solving the poverty problem will require committment from all countries, regardless of income level. This is still everyone's problem.
Posted by Bread on May 16, 2013 in Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In my last blog I mentioned that we now know what malnutrition is and what to do to overcome it. Much has been written about the “1,000-day window of opportunity,” the period from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that malnutrition during this critical time can carry lifelong consequences for a person’s health, education and earnings. When chronic malnutrition affects a large number of people, it can even affect a country’s economy.
The better news is that interventions to prevent and treat malnutrition during the 1,000-day window are not only highly effective, but also great investments in development, with very high returns for every dollar invested. Since nutrition is an integral part of all development sectors, it is often referred to as being “cross-sectoral” in nature. It means that improving a person’s health, or education, or economic situation can have a positive, sustainable influence on malnutrition. Improving nutrition isn’t just about growing more food or having better access to food anymore.
So, if we know what malnutrition is and what actions are required to defeat it, and if we have shown that investing in nutrition is a smart thing to do, what is holding back “scaling up” nutrition on a global scale? The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement now includes 35 countries, all with high levels of malnutrition. Even though some SUN members are among the poorest countries in the world, every SUN country has committed political and financial resources to take action against malnutrition. Could it be that a country’s commitment to fighting hunger and malnutrition is what is important?
What if an index of a country’s commitment was available to help measure and motivate concerted action? The Institute of Development Studies in the United Kingdom, along with the British and Irish aid agencies, has produced just such an index, called the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI). Last year, the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) noted in its Global Hunger Index that in recent years, progress in reducing hunger has been “worryingly slow.” The report found that in many developing countries, significant economic growth has not necessarily led to lower levels of malnutrition and hunger. Rather, a driving factor in making (or not making) progress on malnutrition seems to be a government’s political will (or lack thereof).
The Global Hunger Index treats efforts to reduce hunger and to reduce malnutrition as separate issues. Hunger is a key driver of migration, conflict, and gender discrimination. Malnutrition, the report found, can have different causes and consequences. It does not always come directly from hunger. One example of another cause is an impaired ability to absorb vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) due to disease.
So which countries are doing well according to the HANCI? The results indicate that Guatemala ranks at the top and Guinea Bissau (a small West African nation) at the bottom. The index provides an interesting set of information graphics that can be studied. Guatemala has made a substantial political commitment to improving access to clean drinking water, ensuring improved sanitation, promoting complementary feeding practices, and investing in health interventions. I’ve blogged previously about its “Zero Hunger Plan.” Guinea Bissau, on the other hand, has a low ranking because it has failed to invest in agriculture, leaving women in particular vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition; in addition, the country has not yet developed effective safety nets that can provide its citizens with a measure of food security.
In recent years, we’ve seen a truly incredible level of global momentum on nutrition. But how are the major donors doing when it comes to following through on their political commitments to ending hunger and malnutrition? Where would the United States, Canada, Australia, and the EU rank on the HANCI? Do these governments endorse policies and provide funding for programs that augment the efforts of the developing countries most affected by hunger, chronic food insecurity, and malnutrition?
A series of events in June 2013 will help answer these questions, indicating whether donor governments are “walking the walk” -- or just talking -- about their commitment to nutrition.
First, in London on June 8, the U.K. government will host the “Nutrition for Growth” event, during which governments will pledge specific monetary amounts to help scale up nutrition. Following this, during Bread’s National Gathering, we are hosting an event in Washington, DC, called “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition”, to build on our very successful 2011 event. The Call to Action will bring 40 civil society representatives from SUN countries to discuss SUN’s next steps -- and what’s needed to carry them out -- with U.S. government officials, non-governmental organization nutrition stakeholders, and others, including Bread’s grassroots activists who will be in Washington, DC, for the National Gathering. Participants will be able to judge for themselves whether the U.S. government is “walking the walk” on its commitment to ending malnutrition, particularly among women and children.
Stay tuned to this space and the Bread for the World blog for more information.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on May 14, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Immigration, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Developed and developing, north and south, rich and poor—these are some of the dichotomous terms we use to categorize a country's quality of life. Does any country, or any person, fit neatly into one category or another?
Increasingly, though, people are finding that development is more a continuum than an all-or-nothing condition, an up or down vote. Every country whether it’s been labeled “developed” or not, falls somewhere along that continuum. The 2013 Hunger Report acknowledged this point in its recommendation for continued universal ownership of goals after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. All countries face the same threats to their development to varying degrees.
The momentum behind this more inclusive way of looking at development and quality of life has been helped along by new concepts and tools. The old standards such as gross domestic product (GDP) or income per capita offer limited insight. Indices such as the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) point out the need for a more diverse set of indicators to complete the development picture, expanding it to include less obvious but equally important measurements like access to education, gender equality and greenhouse gas emissions.
Transparency is one of the more recent additions to the expanding development concept. It has only been a major priority of U.S. foreign assistance for a relatively short time. The Millennium Challenge Corporation only made “fighting corruption” an absolute requirement for funding recipients in 2002.
Short clip explains how Transparency International guages corruption and why it matters.
More recently, the push for open government has gained rapid momentum as citizens across the world discover promising new ways to track their leaders’ actions, their use of public resources, their campaign contributors, their vested interests in legislation, and more.
Organizations such as Transparency International and the Sunlight Foundation are leading a growing grassroots movement to open government data to public scrutiny. They’re ranking countries by degree of corruption, tracking political ad spending, and crowdsourcing to fill in missing information gaps. Perhaps most important, they’re collaborating internationally as they never have before. For example, Sunlight recently held its first Transparency Camp International, where members of civil society and government employees from 25 countries (of all income and “development” levels) gathered to join the global open government network and absorb the experiences and solutions of others.
The 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, links open government and transparency to the end goal: good governance. “Improving governance is essential to progress on development,” it explains. “The corrosive effects of government corruption are just one example of how governance problems undermine progress. Good governance, on the other hand, is an enabling condition and a prerequisite to lasting change. Good governance includes many elements, but the most relevant for reducing poverty have to do with creating space for a strong civil society that can hold governments accountable for making progress; building effective institutions to manage and deliver public services; and respecting the rule of law—for example, by protecting the rights of minorities and ensuring that people have recourse to redress for injustices.”
“Most of the work to put these elements in place must be done by national governments and by civil society in developing countries. What the United States and other countries can do as a partner is set high expectations for levels of accountability and transparency. Additionally, they can provide technical know-how, strengthen global institutions that foster good governance, and support leaders who want to govern well. The United States itself must be an example of good governance and continue to work towards becoming more transparent and accountable.”
For more on the importance of transparency in the fight to end hunger, visit hungerreport.org.
Posted by Bread on May 13, 2013 in Africa, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
By Anna Wiersma
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were proposed at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012 as one way to extend the work of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) beyond 2015. The SDGs are intended to compensate for the lack of focus on climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental problems missing from the MDG framework. Table 3.1 shows the proposed SDG focus areas alongside the existing MDGs.
The proposed SDG framework includes both opportunities and challenges for anti-poverty efforts. With any expansion of goals comes the risk of losing clarity and ocus. Each of the MDGs has a direct link to the goal of ending poverty. The proposed SDG focus areas do not include important ways of ﬁghting poverty—ways that go beyond simply providing food—such as education, empowering women, improving child and maternal health and nutrition, and ﬁghting HIV/AIDS.
In spite of these concerns, elements of the SDG agenda could well enhance future anti-poverty efforts. Climate change affects poor people disproportionately, and feeding a rapidly rising global population will require more sustainable forms of agriculture.
Expanding the post-2015 development agenda to address the urgent problems posed by climate change and the need for sustainable food production should not come at the cost of losing the focus on key health, education, and equality issues or the overall clear anti-poverty message. Finding a balance that includes both these essential elements of the MDGs and the essentials of the SDG agenda is the challenge, particularly with numerous stakeholders already vying to shape the SDG agenda and the relationship between the SDGs and MDGs. But just as the MDGs brought global attention to the ﬁght against poverty, the SDGs could serve as a platform for the need to act on climate change.
Anna Wiersma is a senior at Valparaiso University in Indiana pursuing a degree in international economics and cultural affairs. She was a summer 2012 intern in Bread for the World’s government relations department.
This exerpt is borrowed from the 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals. Visit hungerreport.org to learn more about the MDGs, sustainable development, and the post-2015 agenda.
It’s easy to forget that hunger and malnutrition are still big problems here in the Western Hemisphere. The focus tends to be on countries in Africa and South Asia, where malnourished women and children are more visible and international organizations more active. In previous posts on Institute Notes, I’ve written about traveling to Guatemala and described efforts now under way to reduce the country’s stubbornly high rates of maternal/child malnutrition.
Today 1,000 children will be born in Guatemala. If the past predicts the future, half of these babies will grow up stunted (far too short for their age). Stunting causes children to be more susceptible to illness and less likely to do well in school. People who are stunted have lower lifetime earnings than their peers, and they are more likely to raise stunted children themselves. Does this make you a little angry? When a national survey in Guatemala revealed that less than 1 percent of the respondents thought malnutrition was a problem in the country, it angered President Perez Molina more than a little. He ordered every member of his cabinet to spend time living with a family facing chronic food shortages and malnutrition. Many such families are indigenous Guatemalans in difficult to reach mountainous regions.
It didn’t stop with the cabinet. In the end, 6,212 middle- and high-income Guatemalans -- officials, families, members of church and civil society groups -- connected with some of the poorest people in their country. The result was a nationwide commitment to break the cycle of malnutrition and stunting. It’s an ambitious goal in the sense that malnutrition is an entrenched problem that has persisted for decades despite earlier attempts to solve it. In a country whose president is limited to one term (four years), it has proven difficult to muster the political will to initiate actions that might not be sustained. But the Perez Molina administration reconvened after the rural visits to launch a concerted nationwide effort to scale up nutrition in Guatemala. The Zero Hunger Pact was born.
“Zero Hunger” has two main goals: to reduce chronic malnutrition among children by 10 percent and to prevent deaths caused by acute malnutrition by focusing on seasonal hunger (the spike in hunger that generally comes just prior to harvest time). A series of specific actions to combat malnutrition and to encourage people to participate have been developed. The pact’s other areas of focus are to include promoting development and fighting poverty, especially among indigenous rural women. Activities have now begun in various parts of the country, and plans call for expansion in 2014 and 2015.
Last week, I attended a meeting about the Zero Hunger Pact at the State Department, along with Guatemalan government leaders; the State Department’s Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security, Jonathan Shrier; and USAID’s Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau of Food Security, Paul Weisenfeld. With the strong backing of Guatemala’s president, leaders from government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society are working together on a plan to make sustainable improvements in nutrition.
Guatemala has been active in the global Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, which now brings together 34 countries committed to improving maternal and child nutrition. The world now knows what to do and how to do it. What Guatemala has added is political will at its highest level, a national budget allocation, and public commitment.
The Zero Hunger Pact says it best:
“Today we dare dream about a different Guatemala, in which children with smiles are free from hunger and reach their full potential. We have launched the process of change and as a society we are ready to pay the cost for reaching our collective success. What used to divide us, brings us together now in the fight for one single cause: to eradicate malnutrition.”
So with this blog we can salute Guatemala for its efforts, along with other SUN Movement countries who are making political decisions and changing government policies to reduce malnutrition.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on April 15, 2013 in Agriculture, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The Obama administration's FY2014 budget request includes several reforms to U.S. emergency food assistance that Bread for the World has long supported. Perhaps most important, it allows greater flexibility in where and how food aid can be purchased and distributed.
This week, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah explained very clearly why the change is needed. Here's part of what he said about his visit to a refugee camp in Kenya at the height of the Somali famine of 2011:
"Armed groups ... attacked our food convoys and targeted food distribution centers. In the hardest hit areas of southern Somalia where these militants ruled, food aid couldn’t save lives.
"But cash transfers could. Through electronic cash transfers and vouchers, we could extend a lifeline to communities our food aid couldn’t reach. Thanks to this flexibility, we were able to help more than 90,000 families in inaccessible and insecure areas buy readily available food in their communities."
Saving lives in emergencies is, of course, the primary goal of food aid. That's reason enough. But look again at the last phrase in Shah's quote: "readily available food in their communities." It's a reference to a second highly persuasive argument for increased flexibility for local and regional purchase of food aid, one that dovetails perfectly with our focus here at Bread on longer-term solutions to hunger. Often, food is available, even as large numbers of children die of malnutrition. The problem is that local food prices skyrocket during droughts and other natural disasters, and families cannot afford to buy food. Supporting community-based solutions to emergencies -- i.e., enabling families to purchase food locally, thus generating income for other local families -- will help communities recover.
Once the acute phase of a hunger crisis is over, communities are left to rebuild their food systems. As an April 11 statement endorsed by Bread and 10 partner organizations explains, the proposed reforms would "Promot[e] sustainable solutions that build local food markets and support small producers to become more productive and resilient in countries that struggle to overcome chronic food insecurity."Shah said that the administration's reforms would enable food assistance to reach an additional 4 million children each year, without increasing the U.S. food aid budget. He was speaking on "The Future of Food Assistance" at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.
For more information, read Bread's statement on the FY2014 budget proposal.Photo: Local food production, such as these crops headed to market in Sudan, plays an important role in transitioning from a crisis that requires food aid to sustainable food security. Photo by Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
This is not to say, of course, that leaders in South Korea (and around the world) are or should be taking the threats lightly. But wider South Korean society now regards the North’s public pronouncements and brinksmanship tactics with more pity than fear. This shift in broader perception accompanies South Korea’s transformation from one of the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s to a leading developed economy today. It makes the contrast with North Korea’s widespread poverty and hunger all the more stark.
Hunger in North Korea is rampant. In 2011, 32 percent of the population didn’t always know where their next meals were coming from. Nearly one in five children was underweight, and one in three was stunted (that’s largely irreversible cognitive damage to 1/3 of children). The statistics are, sadly, amply illustrated by story after heart-wrenching story of famine, attempts to flee the country, and even cannibalism. Meanwhile, only miles away, South Korea has beaten back hunger to the level s of an industrialized country. The country was recently ranked just after the United Kingdom in food security – it’s the 21st most food secure nation in the world.
The existence of two very different Koreas is one of the strongest pieces of evidence in today’s world for Bread’s argument that hunger is not necessary. It is a choice made by national policy makers.
The 2013 Hunger Report includes a short account of the inspiring South Korean story and the lessons it taught the world about how country-led development and true partnership work:
South Korea’s transformation from one of the poorest countries in the world in the 1950s to a member of the OECD by the 2000s makes it a powerful symbol of the potential impact of effective aid. For decades, the United States, Japan, and other donors provided Korea with a steady stream of financial support and equally significant assistance in capacity building. Between 1962 and 1971, for example, 7,000 Koreans received training abroad, and from this group have come many of the country’s leaders in government, business, and academia.
The South Korean government and the United States did not always agree on the conditions attached to U.S. assistance. The Korean government wanted to focus on large-scale economic infrastructure, while the United States favored building up small and medium-size enterprises. It rejected the government’s request for financing a road project to connect the main port at Busan with the country’s major population centers, so the government spent a quarter of the entire national budget to build the road itself. Seven years after its completion, South Korea’s national income had quadrupled. Thus, it was particularly appropriate for the December 2011 Fourth High-Level Meeting on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Busan, Korea. Busan is now one of the busiest port cities in the world, and its success demonstrates why country-led development should be more than a slogan.
Although each of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is important, some include more specifics than others. MDG 3 is to "promote gender equality" -- quite a sweeping task-- but its specific targets and indicators focus mainly on gender parity in education (at all levels -- primary, secondary, and tertiary) and a related indicator, the ratio of literate women to men in the age group 15 to 24. It's clear that education for girls is critically important and leads to improvements both in women's own lives and those of their children. By itself, though, gender parity in education is not enough to achieve gender equality.
Yet gender equality is not only a core development objective, it is also smart economics. Empowered women and men can improve a society's productivity, offer their children greater opportunities, and make institutions more representative. It benefits everyone.
Bread for the World Institute's 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals emphasizes both the intrinsic value and instrumental value of gender equality. Today, we know that removing barriers that prevent women from having the same access as men to education, economic opportunities, and productive inputs can generate broad based productivity gains -- gains all the more important in an increasingly competitive society. Additionally, leveling the playing field so that women and men have equal chances to actively engage socially and politically -- to make decisions and shape policies -- is likely to lead over time to more representative, and more inclusive institutions and policy responses.
Staggering evidence based on the upcoming 2012 Global Food Policy Report of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reveals that almost 55 percent of the reduction in hunger from 1970 to 1995 can be attributed to improvements in women’s status in society. Additionally, it is estimated that global malnutrition could be reduced by 12 percent to 17 percent if gender barriers were eliminated and women farmers were able to match the yields of male farmers.
It is true that the lives of girls and women have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. While the pace of change has been astonishing in some areas, in other areas, progress toward gender equality has been limited — even in developed countries.
What is also becoming increasingly clear is that income growth by itself does not deliver greater gender equality on all fronts. In fact, where gender gaps have closed quickly, it is because of how institutions and markets — both formal and informal—have functioned and evolved, how growth has played out, and how all these factors have interacted through household decisions. For example, how has the global progress in girls' education come about? A combination of factors -- income growth (which loosens budget constraints), markets (which open new employment opportunities for women), and formal institutions (which expand school systems and lower costs) -- came together in a broad range of countries to influence household decisions in favor of educating girls and young women.
So is women's empowerment important? Yes -- in order to achieve the MDGs, we must redouble our commitment to support women and girls in achieving their full potential. We need to prioritize MDG 3 alongside the other seven goals.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do-- Johann Wolfgang
International Women’s Day on March 8 kicked off a conversation about the progress being made in improving nutrition among vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and young children. For good reason, much of the U.S. development assistance for nutrition is focused on the 1,000-day “window of opportunity” from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday. Improvements in nutrition during this period can benefit children for a lifetime.
But “breaking the cycle” of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition is difficult for structural, economic, political, and social reasons. Poorly nourished women are more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies who often do less well in school and suffer lifelong health problems. The cycle continues when this generation has its own babies, particularly among girls who give birth when they are still at too young an age. In many countries this cycle has continued for generations, especially among vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities and those who live in remote, hard to reach areas. During my visit last year to Bangladesh, I saw some of these problems but I also noticed signs that the situation is improving. Two factors that are helping are better educational opportunities for girls and women, and a trend toward smaller families. Fewer children generally means more food and better nutrition – it’s more likely that there will be enough food left over for a youngest daughter, even in cultures where men, boys, and older girls eat first.
In South Asia, many women and girls are chronically ill due to a lack of proper nutrition. There are several contributing factors: poverty; lack of proper health care; malnutrition early in life, which leaves its survivors more susceptible to disease; lack of nutritional knowledge; and patriarchal family structures that may relegate girls and women to eating only whatever is left over or primarily less nutritious foods. Ambassador David Lane, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture, recently mentioned the “3 A’s” that affect both the quantity and quality of food consumption. These are availability of a nutritious and diverse supply of food, access to it (it’s better not to be that youngest daughter), and absorption of vitamins and minerals. He called for a multisectoral strategy to find solutions in these three areas.
The impact of all the various factors that make young women likely to be malnourished and chronically ill come to a head during pregnancy -- one of the most vulnerable times in a person’s life. About 60 percent of South Asian women in their childbearing years are underweight due partly to a lack of proper nutrition during their own childhoods. Also, eight out of 10 South Asian women are anemic (lack iron) during pregnancy, and many suffer from chronic energy deficit (lack of sufficient calories).
A lack of adequate nutritional knowledge is a big contributor to malnutrition, carrying with it the risk of improper cooking methods, poor hygiene, and too little variety in the diet. Also a major contributor is a lack of resources to prepare food using safe water and to purchase and consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods. Development assistance programs that recognize the important role of nutrition in various sectors, such as agriculture, health, and gender, offer countries an opportunity to educate families so that the cycle of malnutrition can be broken rather than repeated.