A blog post on the recent London hunger summit by the Center for Global Development’s Director for Europe Owen Barder elicited a response in mild disagreement from ONE’s Director for Agriculture and Europe policy, Molly Kinder.
In the post, Barder puts forth two arguments. The first is that hunger has little to do with food production.
Poor nutrition is more than just a problem of food security: we have known for many years that stunting is caused not only by insufficient food, but by inadequate intake of micronutrients. Here again it is a mistake to assume that the answers to poor nutrition lie in agricultural production. Last year’sSystematic Review of Agricultural Interventions that aim to Improve the Nutritional Status of Children found “no evidence of a significant impact of agricultural interventions on prevalence rates of malnutrition among children under five”. (However, we must not confuse lack of evidence of an effect with evidence of the lack of an effect.) From what we know, the main driver of increased use of nutrition-rich food could well be rising incomes and greater urbanisation, rather than bio-fortification; and direct nutrition interventions (such as encouraging breast feeding and the use of infant foods) are likely to be at least as important as any agricultural interventions.
His second point is that the of focus is away from addressing structural problems and towards money. Barder concludes with a negative outlook of the summit writing, “Yesterday’s meeting in Downing Street resulted in £120m of the existing UK aid budget being allocated to fighting malnutrition. That seems like a perfectly sensible use of aid. But re-allocating a tiny part of the aid budget isn’t a job for the Prime Minister, let alone for a group of world leaders. If the G-8 leaders cannot get together and make meaningful decisions about something as important as this, why do they bother meeting at all?”
The conversation with Kinder led to a small update noting that the event was not focused on aid and spending, but he hammered home the point that “the G-8 should add value by tackling their individual and collective policy failures, which only they can do.”
Kinder also pointed out to Barder the positive data that is coming out of the use of biofortification citing a recent study from Uganda and Mozambique.
Here is the full Twitter conversation. It ended with the likelihood that Kinder would write more comprehensive comments or her own post in response to Barder.
A blog post by Owen Barder of CGD led to a series of responses from ONE’s Molly Kinder. The two continued the conversation on Twitter. Here is what has been said so far.