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Sustaining Focus On Global Hunger Critical To Improving Transparency, Accountability In Fight Against Malnutrition

“Malnutrition is easily neglected by parents, communities and governments,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Institute of Development Studies, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog,” adding, “The signs are not visible until very acute, the impacts are felt long after the food and infection cycle has played out — and far beyond electoral cycles — and the causes are often mistakenly attributed to something else.” He continues, “The challenge is to avoid the fight against malnutrition being a compelling but periodic curiosity,” like the Olympics. Haddad questions how to maintain the current focus on global hunger and nutrition helped by the upcoming August 12 summit in London. “At that event, I hope there will be a commitment to make the effort that is expended in the fight against malnutrition more transparent, and to make those who fall short in their exertions more accountable,” he says and lists three tools “that can help.”

First, the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index, currently under development, “measures commitments to reduce malnutrition through the quality and quantity of spending, policies followed, and charters and rights implemented,” and “[w]e hope it will be vital to guide action, to make effort more transparent and to empower us all to hold those with power to account,” he states. Second, organizations and governments can use SMS mobile technologies for nutrition surveillance, “allowing rapid responses to rapidly changing events and exposing inaction,” he writes. Finally, “[c]ommunity scorecards, audits and report cards can make nutrition service provision more accountable to the people it serves,” he says. “These tools need to be scaled up in the fight against malnutrition” because “[t]heir deployment would help lock in the current high levels of commitment to nutrition,” Haddad concludes (8/9).

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