Church Anti-Hunger View: In Malnutrition Fight, Three Priorities Still Key

(Photo Credit: Christian Aid)A woman runs an errand in West Africa's Burkina Faso. People in the Sahel region of Africa are experiencing a severe food crises - a designation that involves multiple stresses on families, governments and aid agencies over several years, a designation which precedes a famine.

In light of calls for a shift in approach to reducing malnutrition around the world, there are three priorities in the fight, according to a church-based charity director.

Maurice A. Bloem, deputy director and head of programs for the pan-denominational Church World Service remarked last week about the potential impact of what has been called the "hunger summit." The UK media event on Sunday coincided with the last day of the London Olympics and attracted a roster of current and former athletes, who posed prominently with Prime Minister David Cameron.

The substance of the summit included brief announcements by the UK government's Department for International Development indicating investment new investments food distribution for Africa and India, research, and efforts to boost developing countries' accountability.

"I have heard certain organizations say that our approaches towards malnutrition need to change from treatment to prevention, but that's only partially true," said Bloem.

He said the first priority was to "ensure that children have the proper start in life – the theme of the First 1,000 Days campaign – and this would include therapeutic feeding treatments."

The 1,000 day initiative prioritizes nutrition for children beginning from the start of a woman's pregnancy until a child's 2nd birthday, which advocates say provides a "profound impact" impact on a child's ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty.
Bloem said the second priority was to strengthen "Africa's smallholder farmers and agricultural productivity, like we do via our community gardens."

Action Aid, a non-profit development organization, says "smallholder sustainable agriculture is the most efficient and socially just way to increase productivity, resilience to climate change, household incomes, job creation, regeneration of land and other natural resources, and improvements in household food security."

Bloem also spoke of a third priority which involves issues linked to activism, government lobbying and legislation.

"The third thing is that we seriously need to look at our global food systems including issues like trade policies, speculation, food waste and sustainable consumption," he said.

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