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74 posts categorized "Latin America"
Good nutrition for teenage girls is essential both for their own health and the health of the children they may have later. Photo by Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World.
One key finding: it is even more important than previously thought to focus on nutrition for pregnant women. Series co-author Robert Black, who was also an author of the influential 2008 Lancet series that identified the critical 1,000 Days "window of opportunity" between pregnancy and age 2, discussed this in his presentation at "Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition," hosted by Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide on June 10.
The research noted a close link between a new mother's nutritional status and her risk of giving birth to an infant who is small for gestational age. These babies are at greater risk of death or stunting than previously realized. Small for gestational age simply means that a newborn is not premature, yet weighs less than she should at birth. This restricted growth is an indication that she has missed key nutrients in the womb. Thus, while the emphasis on preventing premature birth is still very much on target, preventing low birth weights among full term infants is also critical.
The Lancet series also documents the importance of a woman's nutritional status at the time she becomes pregnant. This means, of course, that good nutrition for adolescent girls and young women must be a priority in efforts to scale up early childhood nutrition. As we've just mentioned, both Lancet series identify nutrition during pregnancy as critically important. The additional point, though, is that since many micronutrient deficiencies take time to reverse, nutrition interventions that begin only after a woman realizes she is pregnant may not work quickly enough to ensure adequate nutrition for the developing fetus.
There's an increasing recognition that efforts to end hunger and malnutrition simply cannot succeed unless they are accompanied by solutions to the many ramifications of gender inequality. As the new Lancet series reminds us, prioritizing the feeding of adolescent boys over their sisters is another common practice proving to be counterproductive to building a healthier and more prosperous future for all.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
Very young children, such as this Bolivian baby, have nutritional needs that cannot wait. Photo by Margaret W. Nea for Bread for the World.
The World Bank Group announced today that it will nearly triple funding for maternal and child nutrition programs, to $600 million in 2013-2014, up from $230 million in 2011-2012.
The World Bank Group will also add progress on stunting to the indicators on its Corporate Scorecard. And, noting the excellent progress of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) in responding to malnutrition, the Bank Group will increase its focus on integrating nutrition into agriculture activities.
million children under age 5 are stunted as a result of malnutrition. This is
the face of poverty,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World
Bank Group. “The UK government should be applauded for its leadership to
scale up global investments in maternal and early childhood nutrition—one of
the highest-return investments we can make to end poverty and promote shared
The announcement comes just before the "Nutrition for Growth" event, June 8 in London, and "Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition" hosted by Bread for the World and Concern Worldwide on June 10.
Also on the horizon is the annual G-8 summit, to be held this year in Northern Ireland in late June. G-8 events hold great potential to fight hunger and malnutrition; for example, GAFSP was created as a way to help fulfill the commitments made at the 2009 G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy.
Scaling up nutrition, cost-effective investments, establishing a stunting indicator, young children and pregnant women (the "1,000 Days"), linking agriculture and nutrition, L'Aquila -- these should sound familiar to Institute Notes readers. For several years now, Bread for the World has been championing increased investments in maternal and child nutrition, as well as supporting strategies -- such as increased collaboration between sectors such as nutrition and agriculture -- that make development assistance more effective.
How much will the new funding help? As Jim Yong Kim points out, a little money goes a long way in early childhood nutrition efforts. For example, during the food price crisis of 2008, World Bank Group commitments of less than $850 million enabled about 700,000 children to receive nutritional interventions and almost 300,000 pregnant and nursing women to receive nutritional supplements and education. And these were just two among several groups of beneficiaries of this same pot of money -- the others included 1.7 million people who worked in cash-for-work or food-for-work programs and 8.5 million farm households that received seeds and fertilizers.Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
Five years ago, the well-respected British medical journal The Lancet published a groundbreaking series that focused global attention on maternal and child nutrition. A key finding was the critical importance of the “1,000 Days” between pregnancy and age 2, when proper nutrition establishes the foundation for lifelong health – but malnutrition causes physical and cognitive damage that is largely irreversible. “1,000 Days” quickly became part of the nutrition lexicon.
Today in London, The Lancet launches its follow-up to the 2008 Maternal and Child Nutrition series, a new resource for updated data and policy recommendations on global nutrition. On June 13, Bread for the World will co-host the U.S. launch of the series—another in a string of major nutrition events this month. These include the pledging event “Nutrition for Growth” in London on June 8 and Bread’s June 10 meeting co-hosted with Concern Worldwide, “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition.” It is an exciting and busy time for everyone concerned about hunger, and there’s a great deal of optimism that these high-level events will keep malnutrition and hunger high on the global political agenda.
In the new five-paper Lancet series, both academics and practitioners who specialize in global health and development present new data on the prevalence of malnutrition, analyses of the efficacy and cost effectiveness of current interventions, and evaluations of nutrition policies now in effect. Based on this data, the series recommends policies designed to achieve more rapid and concerted progress on global malnutrition and hunger. The new Lancet series is expected to focus on what are called “nutrition-sensitive” or indirect policies and programs; the first series emphasized “nutrition-specific” or direct actions. Nutrition-sensitive actions can be part of nearly any development effort since they focus on the intersections and linkages of nutrition with other development goals—such as women’s empowerment, stronger educational systems, and faster progress on water, sanitation, and health (WASH) issues.
The release of the second Lancet series will enable Bread for the World and other advocates to point to current, credible research in our efforts to educate opinion leaders, policymakers, and the public about hunger and solutions to it. The first Lancet series galvanized action on early childhood malnutrition; the second promises to be a watershed in efforts to develop the most effective anti-hunger strategies possible.
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)
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)
As the U.S. legislative and national debate on immigration gets fully under way, President Obama paid a state visit to the largest source of modern immigration to the United States – Mexico.
In recent years Mexico has been the source of about 60 percent of all unauthorized immigration to the United States. As such, immigration is consistently one of the highest-priority bilateral topics, along with narcotics trafficking and trade.
During the president’s visit, he acknowledged the changing Mexican economy. Mexico’s economy is the second largest in Latin America, but the country has also long suffered from significant income inequality and widespread poverty.
But poverty is slowly being reduced, even as Mexico continues a bloody battle with narcotic trafficking organizations that claimed an estimated 60,000 lives between 2006 and 2012.
In 2010 for the first time in years, less than half of Mexico’s population was living in poverty. That year, 46 percent of Mexicans lived below the national poverty line. About 10 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty – on less than about $2 a day.
Although this represents progress, about half the population is still living in poverty—thus, many Mexicans continue to look north for economic opportunity and an escape from dire living conditions.
As Congress begins to debate immigration reform in a serious way, President Obama highlighted during his visit to Mexico the importance of maintaining an international perspective on immigration. He pointed out that what happens in Mexico is crucial to a durable immigration policy fix in the United States.
“I … believe that the long-term solution to the challenge of illegal immigration—so we’re not dealing with this, decade after decade—is a growing, prosperous Mexico that creates more jobs and opportunity right here,” the president said last week in Mexico City.
In the midst of an immigration debate that is decidedly focused on domestic concerns and driven by domestic political constituencies, President Obama’s assertion was a refreshing acknowledgement of the international dimensions of immigration, the “push” factors behind it —something Bread for the World Institute has been researching and writing about for several years now.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee finalizes its version of the bill, it would be wise to heed the president’s message on immigration. This way, reform can be truly comprehensive and lasting.
Last week the Senate introduced an 844-page immigration reform bill that could prompt the most sweeping changes to U.S. immigration policy since 1965.
The bill includes major changes to almost all sectors of immigration policy. It establishes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, increases border enforcement efforts, mandates job-based enforcement within the United States, and revamps our legal immigration system in ways that begin to shift the emphasis from family-based immigration to a system that takes U.S. labor force needs into account.
The bipartisan bill was met with widespread accolades by the full spectrum of immigration advocates, albeit with caveats on a variety of issues. While the Senate bill has garnered broad consensus across the political spectrum, the House bill – expected to be introduced within weeks – is likely to be more restrictive. Reconciling both of these bills in a way that will be acceptable to the varied interests promoting immigration reform will be a major challenge in coming months.
One component missing from the bill is an acknowledgement of the international “root causes” of immigration, which include poverty, inequality, and lack of economic opportunity in Mexico and Central America.
While the reasons behind immigration are often seen as a secondary issue – less important than the bill’s major provisions on legalization, border enforcement, legal immigration reform, and guest worker components – any comprehensive immigration policy reform should include an analysis of the “push factors” of unauthorized immigration. As the bill enters the amendment process, this will be one of the key issues for Bread for the World; we will continue to monitor and advocate on “root causes.”
A smallholder farmer in Kenya with her maize (corn) crop. Photo credit ACDI/VOCA.
It's easy to get the impression that for hungry and poor people overseas, foreign assistance is the most important part of the U.S. budget.
There's no doubt that it's an important aspect of our efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty. This despite its small size -- contrary to the public opinion polls that show, year after year, that Americans believe it makes up about 25 percent of all federal spending, development assistance makes up well under 1 percent of the budget. As we've previously pointed out, foreign aid saves millions of lives every year, whether through disaster relief or through one of many less visible efforts such as vaccinations against childhood diseases. Development assistance is a valuable tool for countries, communities, and families working to build a more prosperous future. Those of us who advocate for better policies on hunger and poverty devote a lot of attention to highlighting the reasons to maintain U.S. development assistance, analyzing how limited funds could be better used, dispelling myths such as the above-mentioned "it's 25 percent of the entire budget," and more.
But in some cases, the impact of U.S. policies on trade and/or agriculture can actually cancel out the development assistance a nation receives -- or more than cancel it out, leaving countries worse off. That's why it's so important that the administration's budget request for FY 2014 proposes reductions in farm subsidies. Subsidies for crops such as cotton enable American growers to export overseas at artificially low prices -- prices that developing countries often cannot compete with, even given much lower labor and production costs. Economists would say that a country such as Burkina Faso has a comparative advantage in cotton -- but not if it's undercut by subsidies paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The World Trade Organization has ruled more than once that some forms of U.S. farm subsidies violate international trade agreements.
For a number of years now, analysts from various vantage points have offered numerous valid arguments for cutting farm subsidies. Looking through a hunger "lens," among the most persuasive reasons is to enable a smallholder farmer in Benin or Mali or Burkina Faso to get a fair price for her crops in her local market.
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
Photos from the immigration reform rally last Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (Photos by Derek Schwabe/Bread for the World)
A path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States may be closer to reality than it has been in more than 25 years. This week, a bipartisan group of senators — the so-called “Gang of Eight” — is expected to make public its proposal for comprehensive immigration reform. The proposal is believed to represent an agreement between Congress and the president. It could reach the Senate floor for debate before the Memorial Day recess.
Thousands of advocates descended upon the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday in an effort to jump-start the reform process. They carried flags of Latin American countries together with U.S. flags, as well as signs and banners in English and Spanish with phrases like “The time is now” and “We are all immigrants.” Rally leaders described the event as vital to building public momentum for reform in what they see as a window of political opportunity.
As U.S. policymakers and advocates alike weigh in on the necessary discussion of how to fairly draw the nation’s current undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows,” we cannot neglect the other half of the problem. As we’ve mentioned before, there is no question that undocumented immigrants will continue to come. The more important (though less often addressed) question is why.
The 2013 Hunger Report, Within Reach: Global Development Goals, opens a discussion of “why” with information about the economic situation in many Latin American communities:
Immigration from Latin America is at the center of the debate on immigration policy in the United States—yet very little attention has been paid to the conditions that drive people in Latin America to enter the United States illegally. Migration as a coping strategy is not unique to Latin American immigrants in the United States. Around the world, people have escaped poverty by migrating to places where there is a better chance of earning a living. This includes the rural youth in Uganda mentioned earlier in this chapter, migrating to cities in search of opportunity, and it includes young people from village after village in Guatemala who head to the United States or sometimes to jobs on sugar and coffee plantations in Guatemala or Mexico. The United States is a more popular destination—despite the risk of crossing the desert—because the plantations pay little more than they would be able to earn at home.
While thousands speak out for a better life for immigrants here in the United States, we should remember that the voices we aren’t hearing are those of more than 40 million people in Latin America who struggle to feed their families. Global initiatives such as the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have driven economic progress in many countries, but efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty must come from both sides of the border for an effective response to the “supply” side of undocumented immigration.
Visit the 2013 Hunger Report website to read more about the relationship between hunger and poverty and immigration.
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