Hunger and malnutrition: Then and now

Hunger and malnutrition: Then and now

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For those of you who grew up listening to mix tapes (for the under 30s read "playlists"), the IDS Virtual Bulletin is for you.

The idea is to mix and match articles by theme, spanning the years.

The latest edition is on Hunger and Malnutrition and has articles from the last 30 years from the likes of:

Michael Lipton, Margaret Buchanan-Smith, Mona Sharma, Paul Howe, Jeremy Swift, Richard Longhurst, Simon Maxwell, Ian Scoones, Stephen Devereux, John Thompson, Biraj Swain, Geoff Tansey and Harsh Mander.

It was compiled by our Editorial team of Alison Norwood and Gary Edwards. All the articles are available online and free of charge.

Here is the Foreword from me.

The first article in this virtual IDS Bulletin is by Michael Lipton and dates from 1982. In that year the WHO stunting rate for children of preschool age in sub-Saharan Africa was 39 per cent. In 2012 the rate is still 39 per cent. The FAO hunger numbers paint a slightly less depressing picture for that region – the percentage of the population that were hungry in 1980 was 38 per cent and 30 years later it is 27 per cent.

Like the numbers, the issues in this Bulletin remain remarkably constant – investing in smallholder agriculture, linking relief and development, dealing with seasonality, turning economic growth into child growth, ensuring technology is hunger-reducing – joined by innovations such as the growing right to food movement.

But there is hope. The picture has improved much more dramatically in East Asia and Latin America, driven by various combinations of income growth and strategic public spending on health, social welfare and agriculture. Looking forward there is cause for optimism. In the high burden regions, economic growth is relatively strong and the food price increases of the last five years have put these issues higher on the political agenda.

As Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Vietnam and Ghana show, the most precious and potent ingredient in ending hunger and malnutrition is political leadership.

All of us have to push our politicians to be leaders of this cause. This virtual Bulletin is one such contribution to doing just that.

This blog was cross-posted from Lawrence Haddad's Development Horizons Blog.

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