GAIN and Jay Naidoo
This from Jay Naidoo’s latest article in the Daily Maverick:
“Food security has always focused on the issue of price volatility. We have to go beyond the challenges of increasing food production to meet future demand, and much rather address the nutritional quality of the food that the poor consume. We need to ensure that the developing world can deliver life-sustaining nutrients for the millions of pregnant, lactating women, infants and young children who have greater nutritional requirements than the general population.
Malnutrition leads to impaired cognitive development in children, which weakens their development path and leads to irreversible changes. Its impact includes growth faltering (stunting or low height for age) and lower learning abilities. Malnourished young children are also more at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Moreover, these overall effects cause a decline in human capital which we cannot afford during economic crises.
While GAIN’s approach may seem intuitive, at the time there was little political will to change the business model to address malnutrition. Ever-tight financial and human resources were targeted toward recuperating children on death’s door. The nutrition community was fractured and had little data to back its cause to change the paradigm; preventing the problem seemed overwhelming. Moreover, the health community held a myopic view that this was a problem to be solved by medical means.
It also did not take into account that the majority of the poor, even those at the base of the pyramid, accessed at least some portion of their food through markets, or that preventing chronic malnutrition would be both less expensive and more cost-effective than treating it, since it is the market and private entrepreneurs from village to global level that primarily produce food. There was also no acknowledgement that with increasing migration, the bulk of our global population in city slums would begin depending on industrially produced foods, making household food security a great risk.
University of Cape Town