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Open Access Malnutrition in emergencies: The framing of nutrition concerns in the humanitarian appeals process, 1992 to 2009

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Abstract:

This paper examines how nutrition has been used to raise humanitarian relief resources through the United Nations appeals process, from 1992 to early 2009. Recent calls for "nutrition safety nets" as a response to the world food price crisis reflect a growing recognition of nutrition as a key element in crisis management, not simply as a metric of how bad things have become. The evolution in thinking about the role of nutrition in emergency programming is reflected in changes in how nutrition has been conceptualized and presented in the consolidated appeals process. Based on a desk review, supported by key informant interviews, the paper highlights important changes that include an increasing distinction that separates nutrition from food, water, and health; the importance of synergies across sectors; increased emphasis on "essential packages" of inputs and services versus stand-alone activities; the importance of technical rigor in food and nutrition assessment and surveys; the need for technical competency and capacity in the design and management of nutrition interventions; and the importance of planning for long-term change even in delivering a short-term response. There has also been growing emphasis on specificity in objectives — a trend linked to demand for more accountability across the humanitarian system. Enhanced emergency preparedness will require further capacity building and improved systems for surveillance and data management. Without more systematic, targeted attention to pre-crisis malnutrition, the resources needed to tackle nutrition problems during emergencies will continue to grow.

Keywords: CONSOLIDATED APPEALS PROCESS; EMERGENCY NUTRITION; UNITED NATIONS; WASTING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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