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Food Systems Director's Blog

November 1, 2018

Guest post by Suzanne Palmieri

Last week I had the good fortune to sit down to talk with and learn from three leaders on the latest thinking in advancing global nutrition. The presentations focused on different ways to approach nutrition and gave insights from their research to a packed room of nutrition practitioners at the Washington DC offices of the Society for International Development.

First, we heard from Shannon Doocey from Johns Hopkins University who reported on her research to test the effectiveness of employing cash transfers in emergencies, building on the evidence from non-crisis settings that cash is more efficient and supports local economies. Her study focused on food insecurity in Somalian households in acute food crises. She shared preliminary findings at the household level and, though the study had many limitations and recognizes that further study is needed, her conclusion was that the results showed promise.

Djeinam Toure, with Market Place for Nutritious Foods/Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) provided findings from her research and anecdotes on the successes in linking nutrition goals to the market place and private sector in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Mozambique. She shared a specific story of innovations in dairy processing and distribution, which increased milk consumption in Kenya through ATM like machines. When asked what she saw that was happening in global nutrition work that would be considered “disruptive”, she answered, that the real collaboration with the private sector she is witnessing was making an enormous difference. She encouraged everyone to consider how to partner up.

The last speaker was Mike Foley from Save the Children who highlighed the refined thinking about systems in nutrition work. Mike pointed out that, nutrition is a complex issue that can only be improved by diverse delivery mechanisms and initiatives all working together in a cohesive and coordinated manner. My favorite moment was when Mike reminded us of former World Bank Director Robert Zoellick’s quote, and it should be obvious to implementing partners, that “ people don’t live their lives in health sectors or education sectors or infrastucture sectors, in tidy compartments. People live in families and villages and communties and countries, where all the issues of everyday life merge.” Mike shared that nutrition should be everyone’s job, we should look to see what part we play in the nutrition framework. The UN has proclaimed the Decade of Action on Nutrition for 2016-2025. The Swette Center will be focus on our part to play.

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