29 September 2015

The Hunger & Nutrition Commitment Index 2014: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

I’m currently in Namibia attending a meeting of MPs from the 15 countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  The meeting, co-convened by the Inter-Parliamentary Unit of SADC and UNICEF is intended to support nutrition champions within parliaments to make the case for nutrition to their governments.  I was presenting some of the results from the just released 2015 Global Nutrition Report.

During my presentation I showcased where the SADC countries landed in the 2013 Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI).  Immediately 2 of the countries queried why they were so low in the rankings when they were Nutrition4Growth signatories and members of Scaling UpNutrition movement. I pointed out that the 2015 Global Nutrition Report showed that these countries’ budget allocations to nutrition—something HANCI keys into—were low.  Commitments are only words on a piece of paper until they are backed up by resources.  That’s the beauty of HANCI--it starts conversations about why the country is where it is.  The MPs from those two countries go back to their legislatures armed with information that will help them make the case for nutrition.

This week we see the production of a new set of rankings and scores for 45 countries based on data from 2014. As usual, the 2014 HANCI is based on a set of publicly available data which are fashioned into 20 or so indicators in three buckets—policies, legislation and spending.  The HANCI can also be broken out into a hunger component (HRCI) and a nutrition one (NCI). So what do the new rankings tell us?

From Tables 3.2 and 3.3 we can see that:

* Peru is now number 1 in the HANCI rankings, followed by Guatemala, Malawi, Madagascar and Brazil. What is interesting is that only Peru, Malawi and Brazil do well on the nutrition component, the Nutrition Commitment Index (NCI).  Madagascar is 16th in nutrition rank but 3rd in hunger reduction rank.  India is 7th in hunger but only 30th in nutrition. As I have said many times before, a commitment to reduce hunger is not the same as the commitment to reduce malnutrition.

* Gambia is number 1 in nutrition, followed by Peru, Nepal, Brazil and Malawi

*Guatemala is 1 in hunger reduction, followed by China, Madagascar, Malawi and Rwanda

* The countries at the bottom of the ranking are from fragile and conflict affected contexts and countries where governance is weak: Myanmar 41, Yemen 42, Angola 43, Sudan 44 and Guinea Bissau 45. Nigeria, a country with abundant resources, is 40.

* What about the movers?  Who is up and who is down? For nutrition the biggest jumps are for Mali (up 22 places on the NCI) and South Africa (up 20 places on the NCI). For hunger reduction the biggest jumpers are Benin and DRC (up 10 places on the HRCI) and Cameroon (up 9 places on the HRCI). For nutrition the biggest declines come for Pakistan, Mozambique, Burundi and Cambodia (all 8 places down on NCI). For hunger reduction the biggest declines are Mali, Tanzania and Zambia (all 10 places down on HRCI) and South Africa, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Lesotho (all 9 places down)  

Are there any surprises for me?  Well Ethiopia does well on the HANCI (the combined score) but that is driven by good performance on hunger reduction.  The nutrition ranking is only 31 out of 45, which given nutrition leadership in Ethiopia, is surprising. This is something the Ethiopian policymakers may want to reflect on.

 Where next for HANCI?  In general I would like to see the HANCI expand to more countries: high, middle and low income.  What is the UK government doing to end hunger and malnutrition at home? I would like to know how it fares.  I would also like to see some regression work linking a change in commitment to changes in stunting and wasting over the same period.  This would need HANCI to be constructed for these 45 countries around the turn of the century. 
The main potential for the impact of HANCI is country level briefings with government policymakers. If the HANCI data are out of date then this is a good opportunity to get the fresh data into the public domain. If it is not out of date then responses can be formulated.  Either way, as with the Global Nutrition Report, dialogue is promoted, accountability strengthened and more resources are allocated to hunger reduction and nutrition.  At least that is the theory—this needs to be tested via an evaluation in the next year or two.
As one of the co-founders of HANCI (coming out of the Irish Hunger Task Force) I’m really pleased to see HANCI thriving.  My warm congratulations to the IDS team behind HANCI, led by Dolf Te Lintelo, and to DFID and Irish Aid for supporting it.   Can’t wait for the donor HANCI!

1 comment:

Dolf said...

hello Lawrence, great blog. One more thing: for greater accountability, we need better data on all forms of malnutrition: covering outcomes AND stakeholder efforts.