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Nutrition November: making the most of this important month

Thursday 30 October 2014 by Ian McClelland

November is set to be a busy month for the nutrition community with, amongst other things, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Global Gathering, the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and the launch of the first ever Global Nutrition Report.

‘Nutrition November’ takes place at a time when every day 805 million people are chronically undernourished and 162 million children under the age of five are stunted, meaning that their physical and cognitive development has been restricted because they have not received the nutrients they need.

Over two billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies and the number of overweight or obese children (up to five years old) has increased from 31 million globally in 1990 to 44 million in 2012.

Here’s what these initiatives are hoping to achieve, and why they are so important…

SUN Global Gathering

The SUN Global Gathering is a chance to reflect on the huge amount of progress that has been made in efforts to scale up nutrition and to look at how the movement can continue to address the needs of the 54 countries that have joined to date. To support these efforts, the SUN movement has developed four ‘Communities of Practice‘ which will form the basis of discussions at the gathering.

Second International Conference on Nutrition

ICN2 is taking place 22 years after the first ICN and is a rare opportunity for all UN Member States to demonstrate greater commitment to ending malnutrition in all its forms. Heads of state, ministers and officials from 193 governments will come together for ICN2 with the aim of advancing policies and actions in order to more effectively address the world’s major nutrition challenges.

Member States have been negotiating two outcome documents – a political declaration and a framework for action. The documents contain a number of voluntary commitments which Member States will hopefully sign up to in November, but to ensure implementation the policies and actions put forward in the ICN2 Framework for Action must be specific and time-bound.

Global Nutrition Report

Finally, the first Global Nutrition Report – an outcome of the Nutrition for Growth Summit held in London in 2013 – will be launched during ICN2 on 20 November.

The report is a comprehensive effort to accelerate progress in reducing malnutrition by improving our collective ability to monitor ongoing efforts and promoting accountability for commitments, actions and outcomes. It will cover nutrition status outcomes and programme coverage, as well as underlying determinants such as food security and water, sanitation and hygiene, resource allocations, and institutional and policy transformations.

The many nutrition-related activities taking place in November offer an important opportunity to share experiences and knowledge of what works in efforts to address malnutrition. To make the most of these opportunities we need more than just ambitious commitments – we need a clear vision for implementation.

UK: An illiterate child’s future makes grim reading…

Wednesday 29 October 2014 by Voices from the Field

The importance of literacy really hit me while working in the criminal courts. I’ve spent my whole working life dealing with defendants and fairly early on it struck me that at least once a day I would come across a defendant who couldn’t read or write.

We may know that there’s a connection between illiteracy and the kind of reduced options that often lead to crime but it’s startling to see that theory in front of you every day.

Children who struggle to read and don’t get any support will get frustrated; many then opt out of the system altogether. If you can’t read well, you can’t engage with the world around you in a conventional way: education and many jobs are closed to you but criminal activity, violence and gang life are not.

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Ebola: Prevention is possible but people are dying alone

Wednesday 22 October 2014 by Nina Caplan

When you listen to the experts, Ebola is both scarier and less scary than it initially appears. It’s less scary because soap and chlorine can kill it, and the proper infrastructure and adequate information can protect against it. It’s terrifying, because thousands without those simple advantages are dying, in terrible pain, of a disease that is highly infectious and has neither vaccine nor antidote.
“The biggest outbreak before this was around 500,” says Dr Louisa Baxter, fresh back from supporting our work in Sierra Leone and Liberia. (Well, not absolutely fresh: when she came into the London office she hastened to reassure us that she was through her 21-day quarantine period.) “Now it’s about 8,000 – and that’s probably a gross underestimate.
“Every case leads to another 1.5 or 2.5 cases. Which means the numbers are doubling or tripling every few weeks.”
But these are not just numbers – each is a person, isolated at the most vulnerable time of their lives. “People are dying alone,” says Baxter. “Can you imagine anything more distressing?”

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UK: Helping families through the toughest times

Tuesday 21 October 2014 by Voices from the Field

More than one in four children in the UK lives in poverty and the situation is getting worse.Too many families lack basic household items such as a cooker to make a nutritious hot meal, a bed for a good night’s sleep or books and toys so children can play and learn at home. That’s why Save the Children runs the Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play! programme. We provide families in crisis with the basic household items that most of take for granted, and that are crucial for any household where children are growing up.

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Who’ll be poor in 2030? New calculations from the World Bank

Friday 17 October 2014 by Jose Manuel Roche

New income poverty projections from the World Bank were launched last week, along with some interesting stats on its two goals – eradicating extreme poverty and shared prosperity. Here are the top headlines.

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Guatemala: It’s World Food Day but people here are starving

Thursday 16 October 2014 by Dorothy Sang

The world produces enough food for everyone – but not everyone has enough food. We all understand the unfairness of starvation in a well-fed world. Yet still it happens.
I’m currently in Chiquimula, Guatemala, which sits along the ‘dry corridor’ – an area that is, as the name suggests, harsh and dry, and which stretches across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

This year, it’s even harsher and drier than usual: ECHO is calling it the worst drought in 40 years, affecting nearly 2 million people.

In Guatemala alone, the drought has decimated bean and corn crops and as a result, half a million children are in danger of going hungry . And to make matters worse, the coffee crops their parents depend on for a livelihood have been destroyed by a plague of coffee rust, so the farmers are no longer hiring.

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Guinea: Global Handwashing Day, we ask why aren’t people here washing their hands?

Wednesday 15 October 2014 by Voices from the field - Africa

A little over a week ago I arrived in Guinea to help assess Save the Children’s response to Ebola and establish how we could do more. I was excited but nervous as I disembarked the plane, eyeing passengers cautiously for signs of sickness or fever.

I had resolved to touch nothing and nobody. I didn’t realise then how tough that would be.

After all the media pictures of fully covered and masked personnel, arriving into Guinea’s capital, Conakry, is underwhelming.

Apart from the empty flight (a clear giveaway that something is up with your destination) and a few posters on arrival, it would appear that here in Guinea it is business as usual.

Yet Conakry was the first major city to see cases of Ebola. I can’t get over the absence of any sense of emergency. It feels as though Ebola were “somewhere else” – not here at all.

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Central African Republic: amid conflict we can still help change children’s futures

Friday 10 October 2014 by Daisy Baldwin

Marlene* works as a supervisor in a Child Friendly Space run by Save the Children, inside the camp for displaced people at Bangui Airport.

She studied sociology and anthropology at university and had worked in child protection with Caritas, another NGO, before coming to Save the Children in October 2013.
She has always loved her job.

But in December, after fighting broke out in Bangui, she temporarily found herself in the same position as some of the families she usually helps.

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Money with a mission: life-saving vaccines for every child

Thursday 9 October 2014 by Simon Wright

Vaccination is one of the simplest, cheapest and most cost-effective health services. In low-income countries, it can make the difference between a child living and dying, between a healthy life or illness and disability. That’s why Save the Children is backing Gavi, an alliance of agencies supporting the world’s poorest countries to increase immunisation, which is now trying to raise funds for its next period of operation.

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Ethiopia: “For children, the red t-shirt means safety”

Thursday 9 October 2014 by Sayyeda Salam

I always feel proud to work for Save the Children but never more so than today, visiting Tierkidi refugee camp in Ethiopia, which is sheltering 50,000 South Sudanese refugees.

I asked my colleagues what our red Save the Children t-shirts mean to people. “For children,” they replied, “the red t-shirt means safety”.

For a brief time, I lost my guests – including HRH the Princess Royal, President of Save the Children – as a wave of hundreds of schoolchildren left their classrooms.

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