Nutrition Accountability: Translating Words into Action

1 Oct 2013

This blog post is by RESULTS Nutrition Advocacy Officer, Kat Pittore.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="299"] Credit: DFID[/caption]

Today the World Health Organization is meeting to discuss indicators for the Global Monitoring Framework on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition- in other words- how will we know that the world is on track to meet goals to reduce undernutrition? Three months ago world leaders met in London to demonstrate commitment to ending undernutrition, which is responsible for 3.1 million child deaths each year, by making significant financial commitments to reach ambitious targets for reducing undernutrition.  However, making these pledges was only a first step, nothing will change - the 165 million children who are stunted, the needless deaths of 3.1 million children each year, the 52 million children who suffer from severe acute malnutrition - unless we take action to make these pledges into reality and have a way to measure progress towards achieving these goals.

Last week, world leader gather together as part of the United Nations General Assembly –at this event the UK Department for International Development (DFID) unveiled its suggested accountability framework – a way of making sure that pledges made at the event are achieved. We applaud DFID’s work so far at driving this initiative, and would like to highlight the some of the key issues which must be taken into consideration:

  1. The accountability framework must take into account all countries affected by undernutrition, not only those who pledged at the event. India alone accounts for 70 million of the world’s 165 million stunted children. However they were not present at the Nutrition for Growth Event. The accountability mechanism must be for all countries if we are to see a real impact.
  2. There are many current processes to measure nutrition –many of which rely on the same data. We need to ensure that the accountability framework is something that adds to existing work and makes steps to address many of the data gaps that exist.
  3. Ensure that we reach the targets set at the nutrition for growth event not just by reaching those who are easiest to reach but also those who are most vulnerable and marginalised- ethnic and linguistic minority groups, the poorest in society, and those who are hardest to reach. We need to make sure that the framework ensures that all groups throughout society have access to improved nutrition as a results of the increased funding.
  4. Finally, we need to make sure that we have a clear road map to reaching the World Health Assembly targets- including reducing stunting by 40%, wasting levels to under 5%, and rates of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months to 50% by 2025.

Getting this framework and accountability process right is critical. While big pledging moments are exciting and generate interest and excitement around nutrition, the ability to translate the goals into outcomes lies with how well we can monitor and evaluate how pledges made in London translate to reduced undernutrition rates worldwide.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of RESULTS.

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