"For the first time in decades, the opportunity to end undernutrition is in clear sight." A greater grasp of what to do, why, how, and the sense of being closer than ever are creating the perfect storm for reduction of undernutrition.
1. We have the know-how. We know investments in nutrition are a requirement for a bright future for the next generation. We know the cost effective interventions, and the collaboration necessary of multiple sectors, and the income growth that are all critical to support the reduction of undernutrition investments. And we know responsible and responsive governments are vital to nutrition outcomes being encouraged and delivered.
2.We have a promising enabling environment. Even with the uncertainty of climate change, low-middle income countries have strong economic growth that is, in turn, increasing food security, water and sanitation providing, and the empowerment of women generating tax revenues and further investment in the social sector (and nutrition). Governance and government performance are recognized as the critical pieces of the puzzle that they are. Development partners are strong with commitment and increased investments are seen as a result. And we have every reason to believe post-2015 development goals will feature nutrition more strongly than the MDGs have.
3. We have examples to learn from and be inspired by. Rapid declines in undernutrition in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Peru, Vietnam and the Indian State of Maharashtra show us the combination of economic growth, responsible and responsive governance, and greater strategic nutrition-related investments are working. Political support is also gained because these plans are delivering results that see their citizens alive and thriving.
4. Demographic transitions in low-middle income countries could mean a demographic nightmare characterized by unemployment, unrest, and violence, and sourced by undernutrition in infants 20-25 years earlier. The ratio of people of working ago to those of nonworking age will peak in 2040 in these countries. A labour force flooding of young adults who were undernourished as infants means a massive demographic dividend for families and their nations.
To ward of this potential demographic nightmare....
1. We need to build up political support and commitment to reduce undernutrition. We need to bring the manifestations, budgets, and accountabilities of undernutrition to light with a relentless forward momentum from all parties powered by strong political commitment.
2. We need creativity in mobilizing resources for undernutrition reduction. We absolutely need to innovate new resource mobilization models to avoid long lags and an undernutrition trap. The private sector needs to join the fight and bring their resources to the table with the desire to see its consumer base survive and thrive.
3. Resources need to be invested in interventions and policies that have shown impact on nutrition. Nutrition-specific and sensitive interventions need to be scaled up and expanded. Enabling environments and stimulated general private sector investment need to match up. And we need to build a new generation of nutrition leaders who are fearless, comfortable with the political aspects of undernutrition and the technical details. Capacity development needs greater investment as the ones who build commitment and turn it into action.
(Haddad's ending text:) "We are in the midst of a perfect storm for nutrition. Perfect because it has the power to sweep away all the old prejudices and misconceptions about nutrition. Stormy because it has the power for transformative change, but also because it might blow itself out before it can do its good work. Zero undernutrition is perhaps possible within the next 15 years or so, but it will require maximum effort from a wide ranging movement of people and ideas. Make no mistake, we are members of a world citizenry that can actually make undernutrition invisible. Not because it continues to do its silent but terrifyingly destructive work in the background, but because it will have become a thing of the past."
Read Lawrence Haddad's original text Ending Undernutrition: In Clear Sight?