Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nutrition Advocacy Landscape in Europe

In September 2010 the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation commissioned the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to conduct a landscaping study focused on European stakeholders engaged in addressing undernutrition. Developing an understanding of the European donor and partner landscape for nutrition is needed to inform an evolving nutrition advocacy agenda and identify potential opportunities to scale investments and develop new and effective partnerships.

Project Aims

This report aims to map the landscape of European actors that are engaged in addressing undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries, and to provide a high-level roadmap for scaling-up advocacy activity around the issue. The research objectives of this project are:
  • To understand how a range of European organisations/institutions address undernutrition;
  • To assess the strengths and challenges facing organisations and sectors to address undernutrition;
  • To assess stakeholder receptivity to engage, scale-up activities and work with others; and,
  • To analyse the enablers and barriers to engagement across sectors and stakeholders.

Key Findings

  • Multilateral Organisations are making nutrition a strategic priority. Many agencies are increasing their financial commitments and strategic focus on improved nutrition outcomes. There is also a growing emphasis on integration and understanding how food security and rural development initiatives can best support nutrition outcomes. The European Commission represents a significant source of funding and has been increasingly operational in its nutrition programming across development priorities, although there remains a need to increase and protect these investments within institutional policy. In general, there is still a need for stronger leadership and coordination across multilateral organisations and the wider nutrition community.
  • Nutrition is becoming a more prominent focus on the European bilateral donor agenda. A common emerging pattern is the extent that bilateral donors are integrating nutrition across programmes and placing high priority on results-based frameworks. France, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom emerge as leaders in terms of strategic focus on nutrition. At present it is difficult to gain a clear picture of financial flows for nutrition given that nutrition funding sits within and across several development sectors. Mechanisms to maintain or increase nutrition programming and funding from bilaterals can come through harnessing existing high-level momentum around food security and maternal and child health and necessitates working within political parameters.
  • NGOs are increasingly engaged in nutrition advocacy. NGOs have strong commitment to addressing undernutrition and bring valuable technical expertise and field knowledge into informing evidence-based policies at both national and international levels. NGOs can be constrained by funding parameters, which can deter collaboration and comprehensive strategic planning.
  • Private sector industry is increasingly interested in its role in addressing undernutrition. Preferred mechanisms for engagement are through core business and expanded market presence and through public-private partnerships. The private sector brings a diversified functional and technical expertise and an inherently entrepreneurial approach. Private sector involvement in addressing undernutrition is enhanced if there is a sustainable business model which is often challenging given variable return on investment metrics. Although, broadly speaking, the private sector is aware and interested in solutions to undernutrition; there remains a level of distrust between private and public sectors and a sentiment that the private sector is often not considered as part of the response to undernutrition. There remains a need to clarify goals and understanding of where the private sector can add value and also a need for robust evaluation of health and nutrition impacts of private sector initiatives.
  • Private funders for nutrition in Europe are few. Funders are generally inhibited by a perceived complexity of the nutrition problem and a lack of understanding of how and where their funds may achieve impact. There is potential to increase funding from this sector through developing targeted, clarified advocacy messages and utilising the convening power of membership bodies.
  • Several interrelated themes are evident across sectors. These include an awareness of industry as an important partner coupled with simultaneous distrust between public and private sectors, a growing interest in integrating responses to undernutrition across the spectrum of agriculture, health, food security and direct nutrition interventions, an acknowledgement of the need for further impact evaluation and a broad sentiment that the nutrition agenda needs stronger messaging and goals.

Click here to see the final public report
Click here to see the quantitative analysis of funding flows conducted by Development Initiatives
Click here to see a summary report of the joint European and LSHTM landscape prepared by LSHTM and CCS

Masset E, Haddad L, Cornelius A and Isaza-Castro J (2011),
A systematic review of agricultural interventions that aim to improve nutritional status of children. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

The review is based on a systematic search of the published and unpublished literature. The search was broken down by interventions of the following types: biofortification interventions; home gardens; aquaculture and small fisheries; dairy development; and animal source food promotion. During the search we found more than 7,000 studies, but only 23 qualified for final inclusion based on the exclusion criteria set.

For a summary in a policy brief, see: Evidence Matters

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