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Online guide charts progress on food and nutrition security

Farming First's new online guide (© Farming First)
Farming First's new online guide
© Farming First

The Global Nutrition for Growth compact was one of the most significant outcomes of the pre-G8 summit event, Nutrition for Growth. The compact entails a £2.7bn global agreement aimed at preventing millions of infant deaths and providing the right nutrition to millions of pregnant women, infants and children around the world. However, while funds are crucial to support any actions on the ground, the announcement of new initiatives and the pledging of billions of pounds inevitably beg the question of whether another initiative is needed and what are the measurable impacts of such work?

To answer these questions, the Farming First Coalition recently launched the latest version of its online guide to 35 global and regional food and nutrition security initiatives. The guide offers the first comprehensive analysis of food and nutrition security initiatives, effectively filling an information gap as the only location where all such information is accessible in one place. The re-launched guide also includes many new initiatives focused on tackling the devastating effects of malnutrition that affects billions worldwide.

'One-stop' for information

The interactive guide is a 'one-stop' information resource, targeting farmers' organisations, businesses in the agricultural sector, donors, foundations, and others working on food security and rural development. Commenting on its launch in early June 2013, Robert L. Carlson, President of the World Farmers' Organisation said; "Agriculture has a crucial role to play in eradicating hunger and malnutrition, fighting poverty and improving the living conditions of rural people worldwide. The guide demonstrates this role in action, with it being an invaluable resource for governments, businesses, civil society and others involved in development issues."

Agriculture has a crucial role to play in eradicating hunger and malnutrition (© Neil Palmer (CIAT))
Agriculture has a crucial role to play in eradicating hunger and malnutrition
© Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Tackling the food and nutrition security challenge requires action on many fronts. The guide provides the user with an overview, indicating the breadth of objectives covered by food and nutrition security initiatives. While some initiatives are focused on generic issues such as global policy, others target specific goals such as ensuring market stability, reducing food waste or increasing food safety. Many initiatives aim to tackle malnutrition overall, while others focus on fighting specific nutritional deficiencies such as iodine deficiencies, or use approaches such as food fortification.

The online tool provides information on the leading actors involved in each initiative, as well as the donors, organisations and businesses that provide financial or technical support. Tracy Gerstle, Co-chair of Farming First, admits that compiling the guide has not been easy. "Finding consistent and up to date information for all 35 initiatives has been Farming First's major challenge. Not all initiatives report about their progress in similar ways, however Farming First worked hard to ensure that the information displayed is clear, comparative and easy to understand for users."

While it is early days for the new guide, feedback so far has been encouraging. "The Farming First guide to food security initiatives is an invaluable resource for keeping up to date on the recent explosion of new work in the sector," says Stephanie Hanson, Director of Policy and Outreach of One Acre Fund. "It's the only comprehensive list out there." Her organisation is using an innovative private sector-style model to help smallholder and subsistence farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi to increase their yields of staple food crops.

The Global Nutrition for Growth compact marks a historic opportunity to tackle a global problem (© V Reddy (CCAFS))
The Global Nutrition for Growth compact marks a historic opportunity to tackle a global problem
© V Reddy (CCAFS)

Call to action

While the Global Nutrition for Growth compact marks a historic opportunity to tackle a global problem, the guide aims to raise awareness among all involved in the agricultural sector that the commitments made need to be followed through and that those responsible are directly accountable for achieving specific sets of objectives. Because of this, the guide aims to serve as a call to action to governments and other stakeholders to meet the development assistance commitments that they have made. Just as those commitments evolve, so the guide intends to keep pace with the latest developments.

"We want the tool to be a 'living' resource and are therefore planning to keep it up to date with the latest information on the initiatives," says Gerstle. "This will ensure users are kept abreast of new developments and the latest thinking."

Written by: Jesús Cordero-Salvado

Date published: July 2013

 

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