Childhood wasting is an increasing global public health problem and studies have shown that emergency rates of global acute malnutrition persist in the longer-term in some dryland contexts—even in the absence of an obvious emergency and despite ongoing packages of essential nutrition interventions.  A range of experts and practitioners increasingly recognize the problem of persistent global acute malnutrition and the need more effectively prevent malnutrition.

FAO and Tufts Mind the Gap research demonstrated significant relationships between climate, environment, and conflict with persistent global acute malnutrition in three countries: Sudan, South Sudan, and Chad. It revealed two distinct seasonal peaks of acute malnutrition: a larger peak at the start of the rainy season and smaller peak pre-harvest.  This new evidence contradicts long held assumptions about the seasonal peak of acute malnutrition coinciding with the late rainy season just before the harvest, a time known as the hunger gap, although there have been some independent references to persistent global acute malnutrition during the late dry season and early rains.

Based on this and previous research, Tufts recently produced a report, Nutrition in Africa’s drylands: a conceptual framework for addressing acute malnutrition, that proposes an adapted framework specific to Africa’s drylands. The adapted framework preserves the immediate and underlying drivers of acute malnutrition and recognizes the synergism between them. It also reconceptualizes the basic, more systemic, drivers of acute malnutrition to include three interlinked areas: environment and seasonality; systems and institutions; and livelihood systems.

Additionally, FAO, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO recently developed the Global Action Plan on Wasting (GAP). This plan calls for a policy shift to increase efforts to prevent all forms of malnutrition and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets on wasting and under nutrition.

This technical series is a vital next step in a process of sharing recent research that challenges conventional wisdom and facilitating constructive critiques and informed debate to improve the way we address acute malnutrition in Africa’s drylands. The technical series will:

  • Review wasting and acute malnutrtion in drylands and the role of a conceptual framework for the analysis of drivers of acute malnutrition in these contexts.
  • Present the Global Action Plan on wasting and discuss the implications for drylands.
  • Review the adapted conceptual framework for nutrition in Africa’s drylands, including recent evidence on the basic drivers.
  • Propose revisions to the adapted conceptual framework for addressing acute malnutrition in Africa’s drylands.

The technical series will feed into a high-level roundtable meeting in which we will encourage key actors to commit to facilitating the use of the adapted framework to analyze drivers of persistent global acute malnutrition and develop  sustainable solutions to address basic causes.

We encourage you to attend all the events to fully participate in the conversation about all the basic drivers of malnutrition. The events will be in English with simultaneous interpretation into French.

Panel 1: Basic Drivers of Acute Malnutrition: Environment and Seasonality – October 22, 2020

Panel 2: Basic Drivers of Acute Malnutrition: Systems and Institutions – October 29, 2020

Panel 3: Basic Drivers of Acute Malnutrition: Dryland livelihood systems, vulnerability, resilience and shocks – November 5, 2020

Panel 4: Next Steps: How can the drivers of persistent malnutrition shape the response? – November 12, 2020

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