Institute of Development Studies (United Kingdom)

Africa: Tackling Undernutrition Will Require Large Increase in Funding, Parliamentary Meeting Told

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Healthcare professionals recommend adding grains, such as millet, to the diets of young children.

IDS joined forces with Action Against Hunger (ACF International) and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Debt, Aid and Trade to host a parliamentary meeting on making the Olympic legacy to tackle global undernutrition a reality. Two reports on aid for nutrition were launched at the event. One of which, Using Innovative Financing to End Undernutrition, was written by IDS fellow Stephen Spratt.

The panel discussion was chaired by Heidi Alexander MP, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development. Heidi opened the discussions by talking about building on the momentum from the recent Hunger Summit and ensuring that the issue of nutrition remained at the top of the international development agenda.

Sandra Mutuma from Action Against Hunger (ACF International) and lead author of the report Can investments to scale up nutrition actions be accurately tracked? provided an insight into some of the findings of the report. She argued that it was clear that current funding for nutrition aid fell far short of the levels required and that it was not being accurately targeted at the people and countries which needed it most.

She also highlighted that these problems were further compounded by the lack of transparency surrounding current aid for nutrition.

In his contribution to the discussion Stephen Spratt underlined the human and economic costs of inaction. Failure to provide increased funding and improved political leadership for tackling undernutriton would result in the deaths of 18 million people over the next two years.

Stephen also highlighted the need to look for innovative sources of financing to bridge the funding gap which would be in addition to aid from traditional bilateral and multilateral donors. He suggested that new sources of funding could be provided through partnerships with the private sector and private foundations and also via new international taxes. Stephen also argued that greater international efforts needed to be focused on reducing illicit capital flows from developing countries.

This would help these countries increase the domestic resources available to finance nutrition programmes.

Peter McDermott, Managing Director of the Children's Investment Fund Foundation welcomed the reports as extremely timely. He argued that there was now a genuine window of opportunity to influence global policy makers on tackling undernutrition. The UK and Ireland have both expressed a commitment to tackling undernutrition as a key priority for their presidencies of the G8 and European Union which they will assume in 2013. Peter also stressed that the momentum around the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement now needs to be converted into specific country action.

Patrizia Fracassi from the SUN movement concluded the panel contributions by focusing on the importance of adopting a multi-sectoral approach to tackling undernutrition. She argued that greater links need to be made between nutrition and social protection and that a more integrated policy response across education, agriculture and health was required. Patrizia also highlighted how strong, consistent and transparent political leadership was fundamental to accelerating progress towards reducing undernutrition.

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