23 January 2013

Africa: Enough Food for Everyone If ... Enough of Us Want It. the Ingo Mega Campaign to End Hunger

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OK, it's here. The blockbuster production from over 100 INGOs.

It is called "Enough Food If ..." and the calls to action are around 8 areas to end hunger and undernutrition:

- The UK can lead the world in meeting our aid commitments

- Invest in small-scale farmers

- Invest in nutrition

- Finance the adaptation to climate change that is making it harder to grow food

- Ensure companies do not dodge the tax they owe so that money that is currently being siphoned off from poor countries is instead invested in tackling hunger

- Prevent farmers from being forced off their land

- Put an end to land being used to grow fuel for cars, driving up the price of food

- Push businesses and government to be transparent about their affairs so that citizens can hold to account the powerful players in the food system

Each of these 8 headings has a series of asks (or "shoulds") of the UK government: 24 in all.

Quick observations

1. That is a lot of asks. I'm sure the comms staff at the lead INGOs have pored over this and know what they are doing. I guess we can't have it both ways - development is complex and can't be boiled down to single slogans. This is why the "If... " part is so clever, the core slogan is retained but can be tailored to context (and can accommodate so many INGOs!)

2. Only 5 are spending asks and the rest are policy or charter changes. This is good - development is not just about money.

3. Interestingly only 9 of the asks are things the UK government has complete control over - testimony to the multilateralism that is so desperately needed to deal with development today but which is in short supply.

4. Nutrition: only 2 of the 24 asks relate directly to nutrition (support SUN country plans and spend £149 million per year to prevent maternal and child malnutrition). They are good asks, but how much of the £149m is additional and how can we track the commitments when nutrition resource tracking is such a mess? (Niggle: hunger "and nutrition" again? Perhaps that should be a SUN indicator: the number of times we see "Nutrition and hunger" rather than the reverse.)

5. What's missing? I would have liked to see more on social protection (establishing a food security or nutrition "floor"), more on building infrastructure (such a key factor in allowing farmers to get products and inputs to and from markets), more on managing food price volatility, and more on the need to make agriculture and safety nets more nutrition sensitive. But choices have to be made and, again, I am sure the 8 topics chosen have the most resonance with the UK public (the key audience I presume).

6. Finally, I would have liked to have heard about what the INGOs themselves are going to do differently to help end hunger - in partnership with the UK government or not. One thing would be to make sure their food security response, relief, recovery, rehabilitation and development work is linked and seamless.

But the final thing to say is congratulations! I am impressed that so many INGOs managed to work together to agree on this. It deserves our full support.

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