Why worry about the politics of childhood undernutrition?

Why worry about the politics of childhood undernutrition?

Undernutrition affects over 2 billion people; but most of the global policy focus has been on technical solutions rather than an understanding of nutrition politics. This paper reviews existing literature on nutrition politics and policy. The authors identify a number of recurring themes surrounding knowledge; politics, and capacities. While the literature on nutrition politics and policy is growing, the paper demonstrates how there are a number of gaps in understanding that might be addressed from wider development scholarship on politics and related issues such as power and the state, participation, and accountability.

The authors state that the gaps are many and deep, and highlight those of recent note, including:

  • framing, generation and communication of knowledge and evidence: more research is needed on the relationship between internal and external frames and their impact on policy and action, and on how to build consensus and trust in deeply divided areasPolitical economy and governance of stakeholders, ideas and interests
  • political economy and governance of stakeholders, ideas and interests: the need for better knowledge of the politics of nutrition is a key factor highlighted in this paper. There have been some positive advances in this field, but recognising that real political commitment is still absent in many high-burden countries
  • capacity – individual, organisational and systemic – and financial resources: gaps in knowledge of capacity, and in implementation or the ‘delivery science’ of nutrition remain among the biggest gaps. Also,There is as yet no systematic attempt to learn from other sectors

     

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