Last night I participated in a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development, Chaired by Lord Cameron.
I was presenting some of the findings of the new Hunger and Commitment Nutrition Index (HANCI) for Donor countries (we released a set of indices for the high burden countries in April). See the a new short video on HANCI here.
I was on a panel with Mariella Di Commo from Development Initiatives (presenting their recent work on nutrition aid flows) and Sandra Mutuma from Action Against Hunger (summarising their work on Aid for Nutrition over the past 2-3 years). I have reported positively on these two streams of work in the past.
1. The UK comes out top in the HANCI for donor countries (followed by Canada, Denmark, Germany and Ireland).
2. The rankings are relative, so all donors have room for improvement (for example the UK could spend more on agriculture and food, it could do more to have a coherent strategy on agriculture and food security--one that is as good as their nutrition strategy and it could do better to link the hunger and nutrition agenda to their strong push for women and girls). Also it is important to remember that this is not only DFID's responsibility--DECC, DEFRA and the rest do things that promote or suppress hunger and malnutrition efforts and HANCI tries to capture this.
3. Some donors do much better on Hunger than Nutrition (Australia, Finland) and some do better on Nutrition than Hunger (Netherlands, Sweden). I hope this will help them and others in their countries reflect on why that is so.
4. The stories on nutrition spending are complicated. At times I felt the conclusions for IDS, DI and ACF on, say, UK spending, were not consistent. This is because it is so difficult to unearth data on nutrition spending. We are stuck on quantity, never mind quality of those flows. I understand that progress is being made in the Donor Working Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, but the urgency is clear. Without transparency accountability is impossible.
5. I also felt we did not discuss enough WHY the levels of financing for nutrition are so pitifully low (between 0.3-3% of ODA depending on how you count it) when undernutrition is the underlying cause of death of at least one third of all child deaths and depresses GDP by 11% in high burden contexts. Hence the need to build commitment.
6. The final point is that development has fashions. 7 years ago nutrition was out fashion, and in 7 years time it may well return to that state. This is why it is so important for all of us to lock in the current high levels of commitment in our own organisations and within the post 2015 settlement.
As I said in the previous post, I believe the High Level Panel makes a good start on this, although some of you writing in the comments of the previous post clearly do not agree with me!