Development of national food and nutrition plans
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CTA. 2005. Development of national food and nutrition plans. Rural Radio Resource Pack 2005. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57459
Attempts in Belize to have a co-ordinated approach to food and nutrition planning, and the wider need for expertise and attention on nutrition.
Development of national food and nutrition plans Suggested introduction: Poor nutrition can take many forms. It is a shocking truth that in some parts of the world, over-consumption of sweet and fatty foods is having a huge impact on health and fitness, while in others, people are weak and prone to disease because they do not have enough to eat, or lack sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals in their diet. Whilst the island states of the Caribbean region is perhaps unusual in having both these problems existing side by side - obesity and under-nutrition are, in some places, almost neighbours. As a way of addressing these problems, many Caribbean governments are now developing national food and nutrition security plans. This is a complex process, since food and nutrition involve many different areas of expertise, and require joint action by more than one ministry. At a recent conference on food and nutrition held in Belize, Susanna Thorp spoke to two people who have been heavily involved in the development of such plans. She spoke first to Lorraine Thompson, who works as country co-ordinator in Belize for the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama (INCAP), and began by asking about Belize?s progress in implementing its national food and nutrition plan. IN: ?In Belize we are working on developing? OUT: ? financially as well as otherwise.? DUR?N 5?28? Back announcement: Christine Bocage from the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute in Trinidad and Tobago emphasising the importance of good nutrition in supporting economic development. Transcript Thompson In Belize we are working on developing a food and nutrition security plan. Our policy was adopted by government in 2001 and right after that a commission was named which is the body that would try to co-ordinate activities and try to make the plan operational. We have had some difficulties in trying to develop the plan and to implement it. One of them for instance has to do with co-ordination of activities. There are several different sectors that are working on nutrition in the country and I am sure this is what happens elsewhere. You have Ministry of Health has its programme, you have Ministry of Agriculture has its programmes related to food and nutrition security. You have the Ministry for Education for instance that has school feeding programmes. And what happens at the moment is that each of these bodies are carrying out their projects discreetly and what we need to do is to have some sort of co-ordinated approach to ensure that activities are co-ordinated and we are all working towards the same goal, that is improving food and nutrition security in the country. Thorp So you would like to see better integration between the sectors? Thompson Right and I think one of the ways we are trying to approach it from is to have a co-ordinator, somebody who would work with the different entities that are involved in food and nutrition security that would bring us together. We put all our activities into one plan and hopefully there can be a more co-ordinated approach and certainly less duplication of efforts and better utilisation of the resources that we have. Thorp And how is the plan seen within the country policy as a whole, is it given the priority that you would like it to be given? Thompson I think for the most part our problem in the area of food and nutrition has been the fact that nutrition was never seen to be a problem. Now we understand better the concepts of food and nutrition security and we recognise that in fact the problems in relation to nutrition in this country are big. We are having a lot of chronic non-communicable diseases and we still have pockets of under-nutrition and so our problems are in fact bigger than we thought. We do have a big problem and we do need to generate more support - financial, technical and other resources - to support the implementation of these plans. Thorp So although you are struggling with a number of different issues, actually in Belize your food and nutrition commission is further along perhaps in being set up and implementing its plan than some of the other countries in the region? Thompson Right. There is a lot of political will and that is what has helped us along. Our government has seen, and I think they recognise, that food and nutrition security can be a tool to development and I think it recognises that food and nutrition security can be a tool that would help to alleviate poverty. The bottom line is that we have the political commitment which has helped us to come this far. NARR Christine Bocage is a nutritionist at the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, and she is responsible for assisting countries to develop and implement their national plans. I put it to her that one of the main challenges Caribbean nations face is the low number of people who are trained in both agriculture and nutrition. Bocage With respect to agricultural, the human resource in agriculture I think it is much better, 100% better than with respect to nutrition personnel in the region. We do have countries with no nutrition experts at all and they rely very heavily on the services of the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute. And with respect to agriculture even countries that are importing 99% of their foods that they utilise and consume in country, they do have a greater capacity in agriculture than they do have in nutrition. So it is something that we really do need to take a long look at and to try to convince policymakers that there is a need for nutrition experts if we want to improve food and nutrition security at a national level as well as at a household level. And it is at the household level that we have the nutrition experts; particularly important because then they can give them knowledge and skills so that they can make the right choices and they can lead healthy lifestyles so that we can have a healthier population. Thorp Because if nutrition can be seen in the right way governments would actually be saving themselves money? Bocage Yes, I do think we have seen that in the past and again this will have to do with a lot of sensitisation. But you know politicians like to look at dollars and cents. How would improving nutritional status affect productivity or the economics of the country and so on. So we really need to, as nutrition professionals, agriculturists, persons in trade and planning, try to collect data, analyse the data, have sufficient information, as advocacy tools to convince the policymakers that if we do have a more productive society we can improve our situation financially as well as otherwise. End of track.