Canary in the Coal Mine

The Global Nutrition Report and website will be “THE place” that provides a comprehensive view of the status of nutrition globally and at country level by presenting a ton of nutrition-relevant data. Every year. In one report.

If you have ever  gone searching for nutrition data to figure out how countries are progressing, what the global or regional burden is, or what governments are doing to address malnutrition, you would know how tiring this process is. Although there are many excellent resources out there, the databases are often disconnected and difficult to find. Once you find the right resources, the data itself is a minefield and can be presented in different ways depending on the context. As a nutritionist/expert miner, even I get confused!

Furthermore, there is so much data out there being collected that is either not publicly available or in a very deep quarry, that one would have to know the right organisation or person to even access the information at all. Not all of us are so well-connected or brave…

At Columbia University, I teach a global nutrition course to non-nutritionist, development practitioner students. Many of my students are frustrated when they have to search through different sources and try to figure out which ones are credible. Having one resource to go to such as the Global Nutrition Report, will be useful, not only to students, but to governments, civil society organisations, donors, researchers and academics, development agencies and anyone else interested in nutrition.

What do I hope to see from this report?

  1. Inclusion of overweight and obesity related indicators. They’re in there.
  2. Status of country progress on stunting. It’s in there.
  3. Dietary indicators and maybe one or two new food security indicators. They’re in there.
  4. Case studies of progress. They’re in there.

The team at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), along with the Independent Expert Group and partners are working hard to gather all the information for the inaugural report that will be released this November at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) meeting in Rome. Consider this team as your hewers, drillers, and loaders, extracting these precious minerals. The Global Nutrition Report will serve as the ‘canary in the mine’ by alerting countries to potential ‘danger’ where malnutrition issues are not being addressed fully, as well as sharing learning where things are working well. The report provides a full picture of malnutrition by country, region and globally with the aim of sustaining and increasing the global commitment to malnutrition reduction.