Mohamed Ag Bendech
Favorite read: Healthy Meals in Schools: Policy Innovations linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition from the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition
* Increasing risk of overweight and obesity among schoolchildren
* Relevance of promoting Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits at the Schools
* Relevant recommendations to policymakers
Policy Brief No 2. September 2015: Healthy Meals in Schools: Policy Innovations linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition
Favorite read: A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries
* Important question that needed to be answered: Six randomized trials in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Pakistan, and Peru suffering from extreme poverty to test the the impact of a productive asset grant (of their choosing) with training and support, aka a livelihood booster.
* The design was excellent: An RCT with two end lines - one at the end of the two -year intervention and a second endline, 1 year after the first endline.
* Little nudges matter: One year after the end of the intervention, 36 months after the productive asset transfer, 8 out of 10 indices (consumption, food security, productive and household assets, financial inclusion, time use, income and revenues, physical health, mental health, political involvement, and women’s empowerment) still showed statistically significant gains, and there was very little or no decline in the impact of the program.
* Relevant for nutrition: I think so. Although they did not explicitly measure nutrition, they do capture indirect or maybe even direct, determinants that could impact nutrition. Food security gains were high with elasticity for food consumption being greater than 1. Agriculture income (particularly livestock) and asset and time allocation indices improved, along with other effects.
Poverty trap or poverty flat: The discussion section is a worthy read for anyone working in development.
Banerjee, A., Duflo, E., Goldberg, N., Karlan, D., Osei, R., Parienté, W., ... & Udry, C. (2015). A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries. Science, 348(6236), 1260799.
Favorite read: Listening to Leaders: Which Development Partners Do They Prefer and Why?
The report examines the interactions that decision-makers in low and middle-income countries have with development partners, pulling from their invaluable insights into the most pressing problems they face, their top policy priorities, and thoughts on how aid agencies and other external actors can partner with them most effectively.
The report is based on the first wave of the 2014 Reform Efforts Survey, which benefited from the participation of nearly 6,750 development policymakers and practitioners in 126 low- and middle-income countries who provided information about the influence and performance of 100+ Western and non-Western development partners. The report gives voice to those who are actually making and shaping policy providing in-country decision-makers with an opportunity to tell external development partners which sources of advice and assistance are most and least useful to them.
Main take away messages for me are: 1) A development partner’s financial weight is seemingly unrelated to the perceived usefulness of its policy advice; 2) Aligning with host country priorities increases the development partner’s influence; 3) Development partners might better direct their efforts where they can enjoy policy influence multiplier effects (meaning where they are likely to forge meaningful alliances with national champions) and 4) There is a clear connection between agenda setting influence and subsequent involvement in reform implementation pointing to the importance of getting a ‘seat at the table’ during policy deliberations.
The findings from the report provide interesting clues for the nutrition community on how to navigate these changing times and bring value in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Establishing feedback loops should enable better learning from governmental and non-governmental leaders on the ground and, in the long run, ensure that nutrition is truly regarded as a global issue concerning everyone and not only as a developing countries’ problem.
Custer, Samantha, Zachary Rice, Takaaki Masaki, Rebecca Latourell and Bradley Parks. 2015. Listening to Leaders: Which Development Partners Do They Prefer and Why? Williamsburg, VA: AidData.
Favorite read: Dietary quality among men and women in 187 countries in 1990 and 2010: a systematic assessment by Imamura et al. Lancet Global Health.
I like papers that are relevant, original and rigorous. This paper is not particularly easy to read nevertheless it meets the first and second criteria easily. Poor diets are the number one cause of the global burden of disease and yet we have very poor data on diets. This paper attempts to fill that gap. Relevance? Check. Moreover, it does it in a breathtakingly audacious way: let’s get all the diet/consumption surveys out there, pass them through some inclusion criteria and (somehow) stitch them together. Rather than complain about the absence of perfect data, lets use the existing data we have. Original? Check. Rigorous? Well the paper must have passed some minimum checks to get through the Lancet Global Health peer review process, but it is not clear how this cart of apples, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, grapes etc. is blended into a data smoothie. But the ultimate accolade from me is “I wish I had written it”. And I wish I had.
Imamura, F., Micha, R., Khatibzadeh, S., Fahimi, S., Shi, P., Powles, J., ... & Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE. (2015). Dietary quality among men and women in 187 countries in 1990 and 2010: a systematic assessment. The Lancet Global Health, 3(3), e132-e142.
Favorite read: Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and Framework for Action, signed by 100 cities in October 2015
I wanted to choose something that I had really made me think this year about how to encourage and enable more effective action for nutrition - as well as something I think needs more attention by the nutrition community. And one of those things is the work that is being done at the city level to improve food systems.
This Pact attempts to bring together the work that is being done at the City level (also reported in this report here http://www.foodpolicymilano.org/en/ebook-good-practice-en/) and motivate more action. Its extremely relevant to nutrition and I think there is huge potential for the nutrition community to engage more with this city-level action. Another thing that impresses me is the view taken of food systems at the city level: I have been fortunate this year to meet several people working in this area, and they all have a very good understanding of what a food system is - its not just about production systems (important though that is), but how food gets into peoples hands.
Favorite read: Countdown to 2015 and beyond: fulfilling the health agenda for women and children
The paper is a great reminder of how far the world has come on delivering core health services (and nutrition) but how long the road ahead is on even assuring the very basics of health care in poor countries. The coverage figure in that paper is my go-to figure when I open presentations on scaling up, implementation science, you name it.
Requejo, Jennifer Harris, et al. "Countdown to 2015 and beyond: fulfilling the health agenda for women and children." The Lancet 385.9966 (2015): 466-476.
Favorite read: Towards a framework convention on healthy diets
I very much liked the article by Olivier de Schutter, former special rapporteur on the right to food.
Olivier points out in a very short and concise way the current problems of of our food systems. At the same time he advocates for a solution: a convention for healthy diets. In his conclusion he also points out the importance of accountability!
Towards a framework convention on healthy diets. SCN news 41. Nutrition and the Post 2015 development agenda. Seizing the Opportunity
Yves Martin Prevel
Favorite read: Preventing environmental enteric dysfunction through improved water, sanitation and hygiene: an opportunity for stunting reduction in developing countries.
* Environmental enteropathy has emerged a while ago as a potential important neglected contributor to stunting; this paper makes the case quite nicely and provides an interesting and useful causal framework (fig. 2)
* Good review of the literature on the topic
* Cross sectoral vision: how much can the WASH sector help in reducing stunting? Apparently a lot!
Mbuya MNN and Humphrey JH: Preventing environmental enteric dysfunction through improved water, sanitation and hygiene: an opportunity for stunting reduction in developing countries. Matern Child Nutr 2015:n/a-n/a [doi: 10.1111/mcn.12220]
(not an IEG member, but an IFPRI colleague with an interesting suggestion)
Favorite read: Conceptualizing Drivers of Policy Change in Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Security: The Kaleidoscope Model
This paper was a relief for me: To see that not only are nutritionists attempting to grapple with the politics of nutrition, but political scientists are, too. It’s nice to see that people other than nutritionists find nutrition an interesting and important topic to research, and it’s good to do this from the perspective of other disciplines. The model in the paper is now being applied to research on the political processes for micronutrient and input subsidy policies in several countries, and I look forward to the findings in 2016, which will broaden and deepen the small but growing nutrition policy process literature.
Danielle Resnick, Suresh Babu, Steven Haggblade, Sheryl Hendriks, and David Mather, 2015. Conceptualizing Drivers of Policy Change in Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Security: The Kaleidoscope Model. IFPRI Discussion Paper 01414. IFPRI, Washington DC