Author: Ranjani K. Murthy, April 23 2014       The Zero Draft Political Outcome Document for the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) which will be held in Rome in 2014 recognises that a framework for collective commitment, action and results is needed to reshape the global food system to improve people’s nutrition, particularly that of women and children (WHO, n.d).

The Zero Draft Political Outcome Document renews commitment to reduce the number of children under 5 who are stunted; reduce anaemia in women of reproductive age; reduce low birth weight; halt the increase in the prevalence of overweight in children under 5; increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months; reduce and maintain the prevalence of wasting in children under 5; as well as reverse the rise in obesity and diabetes (WHO, n.d).

Seven strategies are suggested by the Draft document to achieve the above commitments:

I.    Aligning food systems (systems for food production, storage and distribution) to people’s health needs;
II.    Making food systems equitable, enabling all to access nutritious foods;
III.    Making food systems provide safe and nutritious food in a sustainable and resilient way;
IV.    Ensuring through public policies that nutritious food is accessible, affordable and acceptable
V.    Establishing governments’ leadership for shaping food systems;
VI.    Encouraging contributions from all actors in society;
VII.    Implementing a framework through which  progress with implementing these commitments can be monitored

The ICN2 Zero Draft Political Outcome Document observes that ecological sustainability concerns, in particular climate change, poses a constraint to achievement of the commitments listed above.  At the other end, it notes that consumption of processed foods, sugar and saturated & transfats poses a challenge (WHO, n.d).      

Comments

The commitments (e.g. reduction in anemia in women), constraints, and the seven strategies outlined in the draft are indeed welcome given that the progress in achieving MDG targets on nutrition has been slower than those on income poverty.

It is suggested that the additional commitments, constraints and strategies suggested in Figure 1 could be considered building upon Murthy and Kappen (2013).

Figure 1: Additional commitments, constraints and strategies

COMMITMENTS CONSTRAINTS STRATEGIES
Reduce number adults whose BMI is below 18.5
Reduction in cultivated land*, livestock and forest produce per person
Removal of food subsidies by developed countries
Address gender and social disparities in malnutrition (race, caste, class, disability, HIV status etc)
Diversion of land for fuel crops, animal feed, genetically modified  (GM) food, etc.
Policy  and legislation on land which strengthens food and nutrition security
Unequal ownership of land and access to affordable food  
Legislation  which freezes a point beyond which agriculture land cannot be converted
Unethical food advertisement
Ban unethical food advertisements and GM foods
Increase in income not leading to
healthy diet
Legislation on right to nutrition
Lack of legislation on right to nutrition
Supplementary nutrition for malnourished workers in cash for work programmes
Cash for work schemes promoted with malnourished population
Address social and gender biases in implementation of nutrition schemes
Breast-feeding friendly work spaces

* The FAO Statistical Year Book 2013 notes that global cultivated land per person has gradually declined from 0.44 ha to less than 0.25 ha over the last 50 years (FAO, 2013).

It is only when the negotiation power of developing countries in a globalizing world and that of marginalized groups vis-a-vis household, community, markets and state enhances that the constraints can be addressed and strategies implemented. Only then will the commitments of the Draft Document on reduction of malnutrition be achieved.

References

Food and Agricultural Organization, 2013, FAO Statistical Yearbook 2013: World food and agriculture, Rome 2013 [PDF format].

Murthy, R.K, and M. Kappen, 2013, Gender and Food Security in India: A Trainer’s Manual, Visthar, Bangalore, India.

World Health Organization, n.d, THE ROME ACCORD ICN2 zero draft political outcome document for 19 November 2014 [PDF format].

Image credit: The Hindu