Food Scarcity and Famine: Assessment and Response
1992 Food Aid Review
Food and Health: The Experts Agree
Food for the Cities: Urban Nutrition Policy in Developing Countries
New York State Nutrition: State of the State
The World's Women: Trends and Statistics 1970-1990
Rapid Assessment Methodologies for Planning and Evaluation of Health Related Programmes
Ending Hidden Hunger
(1992), Helen Young, Oxfam Practical Health Guide No. 7Food Scarcity and Famine is a manual designed with the goal of helping field workers in situations of famine or food security to make assessments and decisions on interventions in mind. It goes through steps which must be taken in a famine situation, from definition and identification of the problem to distributing food.
The manual is divided into four sections. The first part sets out definitions for food scarcity, famine and malnutrition, as well as some of their common causes. The ways in which malnutrition can be measured are also discussed. Part 2 deals with making assessments and surveys of situations. It indicates which aspects of the situation field officers must find out about, and which methods are available for accessing the necessary information. Selection and training of a fieldwork team is also detailed, as well as analysis of data, and presentation of findings. Part 3 discusses which points must be considered when it comes to deciding on courses of action, and analyses which responses are appropriate in certain situations. Targeting and its appropriateness is also discussed in relative detail. Part 4 deals with food distribution - the different types, e.g. general food rations, supplementary feeding programmes, therapeutic feeding programmes, and the type of problems likely to be encountered.
Contact for further information: OXFAM Publications, 274 Banbury Rd, Oxford, OX2 7DZ, United Kingdom.
Published by the World Food Programme, 142 pagesThis annual review of the food aid policies and programmes of bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental organizations provides a brief overview of the global food aid and food supply situation followed by an analysis of the flows and trends of food in 1991 and a review of the year's major food aid initiatives. In his foreword, James Ingram, the former Executive Director of WFP, talks of the likely increasing need for food aid in the 1990s, against a background of drought and armed conflict in Africa, rapid flux in eastern Europe, as well as the current low grain stocks among major food-exporters.
Ingram concludes with a call for a multilateral arrangement to safeguard world food security, especially for the poorest countries - effectively an assurance by donors of adequate food aid supplies. In recent GATT negotiations, donor readiness to take account of future food aid requirements has been shown, and this is an area where some creative actions are needed before we are faced with sudden food shortfalls that could spell disaster for millions of people.
The report is concise and well-illustrated with useful graphics. Following a short introductory review of global food aid policies and programmes in general, WFP's activities during 1991, in development and relief, are considered. A regional breakdown is given in the final three sections which cover Africa, Asia and the Americas respectively. The annexes and statistical tables at the back of the report provide one-paragraph summaries of WFP relief and development operations worldwide, and tabulations of trends of food aid supplies during the 1980s, disaggregated by recipient country, donor and project type.
For further information contact: World Food Programme, Via Cristoforo Colombo, 1-00145 Rome, Italy.
(1992) Geoffrey Cannon, Consumer's Association, London, 230 pages.The subtitle of Food and Health is An analysis of one hundred authoritative scientific reports on food, nutrition and public health published throughout the world in thirty years, between 1961 and 1991. The author claims that such a review is necessary by virtue of the fact that so many people seem to believe that experts disagree on the topic, whereas, according to him, the great majority of experts worldwide actually do agree. The report initially traces the history of the British diet, from the age of pastoral society until the present day, before dividing into sections, arranged according to years covered.
Part One traces attitudes towards diet from the early part of the Twentieth Century. As scientific data seemed to indicate more and more that diet could lead to risk of certain diseases, especially heart disease, public policy began to change. Concern about heart disease rose steadily, with reports about diet and coronary heart disease published in many industrialized nations. In the first half of the 1970's, consensus was reached on the relationship between diet and heart disease. It was in this period that campaigns to change attitudes towards diets were first begun.
Part Two (1977-82) sets out what strategies began to be employed to promote health and prevent disease, including discussions about nutrition and health requirements among the experts of the day. Part 3 (1982-86) links Western diets with typically Western diseases, such as cancers, heart disease, obesity etc, and indicates opinions of some Western countries and important health organizations about the relationship between diet and disease, and their recommendations for healthier diets. The subsequent two parts deal with the last five years, and consider the growth of a European consensus on diet, and an emerging worldwide consensus on diet and its relationship to health.
The report can be acquired by writing to The Consumer's Association, 1 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.
(1992) by Sarah Atkinson, published by the Department of Public Health and Policy of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), 72 pages.The first question addressed in the review is how far and in what ways the health sector is able to address problems of both malnutrition and food insecurity. It is concluded that the health sector necessarily has limited scope to address the broad aspects of food security, but can play a significant role in addressing specific issues. The issues which are important in urban areas, and which have received little attention to date, are occupational hazards, the influence of advertisements, the constraints on breast-feeding and how to reach various potentially vulnerable groups such as elderly working adults and street children. The health sector is unable to address wider influences of supply of food and economic access to that supply, beyond a lobbying role.
Issues of food security are obviously a dependent part of overall development policy. The review introduces urbanization within development theory and the planner's perceptions of the urban poor within this context. It is concluded that a fuller picture of urban life is essential if realistic predictions are to be made of the likely impact of any policy on the food security of different urban social and economic groups. Many of studies reviewed here highlight the error of viewing the urban poor as a homogeneous population; they document the variation in economic activities, income, social networks and organizations within communities defined as deprived.
A social factor of particular importance in the urban context is the relationship between individuals and their households. Most approaches to urban food security use the household as the major economic unit. In an urban setting, there is evidence that some individuals do not invest all their resources in the household, but use part of them independently. The extent of involvement of individuals in their households, the allocation of household resources between its individual members and the factors determining such decisions require much further study in order better to understand the relevance of the household unit in urban food security.
Specific programme and policy options for increasing food supply and access to it are discussed. Options requiring more attention and evaluation are urban agriculture, street foods and development of the informal sector. However, it is clear that there are no easy solutions. Most options are simply refinements of old solutions, such as targeting subsidies more efficiently. There is a movement towards supporting survival initiatives of the poor themselves. The crucial question still debated is how far development of informal activities can provide employment, income and food security for the cities. The review concludes that it may be limited as a long-term option.
The review opens with an introduction to the subject matter of nutrition and urban nutrition, leading into a discussion of aspects of urban nutrition that come under the brief of the health sector. Chapters 3 and 4 take a broader definition of urban food security and discuss policy and programme options to increase supply and access. The concluding chapter highlights those issues of urban nutrition that emerged as of particular interest and discusses aspects in need of further attention.
This is number 5 in a series of departmental publications from the health policy unit of LSHTM. Previous publications considered issues of health in slums, the economic aspects of AIDS and HIV infection in the U.K., socio-economic aspects of HIV and AIDS in developing countries, and the balance between public and private health care.
Address for farther details: LSHTM, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, United Kingdom (fax: 071-436-3611).
(1992) Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 176 pages.New York State Nutrition: State of the State synthesizes nutritional data for the entire state into one report for the first time. It uses the most recent data available to provide a complete picture of the nutrition situation of New York residents, breaking down the information by race, income, education, age, sex, and geographic location.
The authors set out the following aims in the beginning of the report: i) To use existing data to describe the nutritional health and needs of New York State residents; ii) To assess whether existing data comprehensively describe the nutritional health and needs of New York State residents; iii) To evaluate whether compiling existing nutritional data into one report is useful.
The report is divided up into several chapters. Chapters 2 and 3 deal with food access and related issues; more specifically, availability and quality of food supply and distribution, and the ability to obtain the food necessary to meet individual needs. It also discusses various food assistance programmes in this context. Chapters 4 through 8 discuss the nutritional health of residents at various points in their lives: pregnancy, infancy and early childhood, school-age children, adulthood and old age. All of the chapters deal with at least four issues: dietary factors, weight status and weight-related practices, nutrition-related health conditions, and access to nutrition information, food and services.
A fair proportion of the report is given to discussing the nutritional implications of government food assistance. This is hardly surprising given the fact that a large number of the poor people in the United States (and therefore those most likely to suffer from nutrition problems) are on some kind of government assistance. The government programmes are also under special scrutiny because of recent cuts in funds for such programmes, at a time when the number of people requiring assistance is increasing. This has particular implications for the nutrition of low-income residents.
A very useful feature in the lay-out of the report are the New York State Highlights boxes. These draw attention to the most interesting facts and statistics. The numerous graphs and charts also help to display facts and figures in a meaningful and accessible fashion.
For further information contact: Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 104 Savage Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-6301, USA.
United Nations, New York, 120 pages.The idea behind producing The World's Women 1970-1990 is to provide the numbers and analysis needed to understand how conditions are changing or not changing for women - and to do it in a way that will reach women, the media and women's advocates everywhere. In this approach the report is innovative and experimental for the United Nations. It provides concerned women and men with information they can use to inform people everywhere about how much women contribute to economic life, political life and family life and to support appeals to persuade public and private decision-makers to change policies that are unfair to women.
The direction and the areas covered follow mandates already adopted in the United Nations, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (1985).
The publication is also a statistical sourcebook. Country and area data are assembled on indicators that capture conditions of women and then grouped into regional averages. The regional averages are analyzed and interpreted for presentation in text and charts. A wide range of general and ad hoc statistics have been assembled but many gaps remain - gaps in coverage of important topics, in timeliness, in comparison with men, in comparisons over time and in country coverage. The publication nevertheless provides a guide for accumulating and interpreting more information in coming years. It also provides the most complete presentation so far of how women fare in different parts of the world.
Each chapter begins with its main messages - in four or five sentences - before proceeding with modules of text, charts and sometimes tables to present regional stories drawn from the country table at the back of the chapter. The intention is not to produce a linear narrative, but to assemble, for each indicator, some descriptive text and illustrative charts to convey what is generalizable from the data.
The six main categories of data are the following: i) Women, family and households, with data on population (geographic location), age, marriage patterns, women-headed households, domestic violence; ii) Leadership and decision-making, with information on the position of women in politics, form the grassroots to government, economic decision-making, etc; iii) Education, including literacy, school enrollment, teaching; iv) Health and child-bearing, including life expectancy, causes of death, health of girls, child-bearing, AIDS; v) Housing, including urban/rural differences, environmental issues, water, sanitation; vi) Economic status, labour force participation, agriculture, industry, services, informal sector.
The report is a collaborative effort of the many United Nations bodies concerned with promoting women's equality and participation in development. This effort has been led by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Division for the Advancement of Women, Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, all of which also provided substantial financial support.
For further information contact: United Nations Publications, New York, NY 10017, USA.
(1992) Edited by Nevin Scrimshaw and Gary Gleason, published by the INFDC, 540 pages.This book presents both conceptual foundations and operational guidelines for rapid assessment methodologies. Edited by Nevin Scrimshaw and Gary Gleason the book draws most of its chapters from presentations, many updated, made at the International Conference on Rapid Assessment Methodologies for Planning and Evaluation of Health Related Programmes held at the Pan American Health Organization headquarters in Washington D.C. in November 1990. The purpose of this book follows that of the conference. It explores the development, use and problems surrounding the wide variety of qualitative methodologies that are currently seeing growing application in the design, evaluation, and improvement of programmes of nutrition and primary health care.
The over 43 chapters on Rapid Assessment Procedures (RAP), Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) and related approaches outline research tools that offer strong potential to assist in national and international public health and other areas.
The book is aimed at development practitioners, students of public health, anthropology, sociology, and others seeking to better understand the breadth of RAP and RRA applications. Based on the work of the volume's international array of contributors, readers can gain insight into the core concepts on which RAP and RRA rest as well as a better understanding of the many tools these methodologies use.
Source: RAP News, Autumn 1992. Contact for further information: INFDC, Charles Street Station, PO Box 500, Boston, MA 02114-0500, USA
A video on overcoming micronutrient malnutrition. UNICEF/WHO, 1992.Today, two thousand million people worldwide are at risk from iron deficiency. Eight hundred million people in 37 countries are at risk from vitamin A deficiency; and one thousand million people in 97 countries are at risk from iodine deficiency disorders. Micronutrient malnutrition impairs growth and development (both physical and mental), puts at risk the survival of infants and young children, endangers the physical and intellectual development of school-age children, reduces the work performance and productivity of adults and undermines the reproductive performance of women. In addition, each deficiency has its own specific consequences. Micronutrient deficiencies contribute a brake on socio-economic development, and often are combined in synergistic action to the deprivation of the world's under privileged groups.
The video Ending Hidden Hunger illustrates the nature of the problem and how it is being addressed around the world through location shooting in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Countries are using combinations of the four main strategies for overcoming micronutrient malnutrition: dietary diversification, food fortification, nutrient supplementation and public health measures. In the long term, the solution lies with a better diet, which will include fortified foods such as iodised salt. While this is being achieved, supplementation can reduce ill health and save lives. At every stage, public health measures can play an important role.
To obtain a copy of the video contact Bedford Productions Ltd, 6th Floor, 6 Vigo Street, London W1X 1AH. United Kingdom. Phone: (0)71 287 9928 Fax: (0)71 287 9870.