[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of effective agricultural monitoring networks is essential to track, anticipate and manage changes in the social, economic and environmental aspects of agriculture. We welcome the perspective of Lindenmayer and Likens (J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 1559) as published in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring on our earlier paper, "Monitoring the World's Agriculture" (Sachs et al., Nature, 2010, 466, 558-560). In this response, we address their three main critiques labeled as 'the passive approach', 'the problem with uniform metrics' and 'the problem with composite metrics'. We expand on specific research questions at the core of the network design, on the distinction between key universal and site-specific metrics to detect change over time and across scales, and on the need for composite metrics in decision-making. We believe that simultaneously measuring indicators of the three pillars of sustainability (environmentally sound, social responsible and economically viable) in an effectively integrated monitoring system will ultimately allow scientists and land managers alike to find solutions to the most pressing problems facing global food security.
Journal of Environmental Monitoring 03/2012; 14(3):738-42. · 2.09 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In sub-Saharan Africa, ~ 40% of children <5 y old are stunted, with levels that have remained largely unchanged over the past 2 decades. Although the complex determinants of undernutrition are well recognized, few studies have evaluated strategies that combine nutrition-specific, health-based approaches with food system- and livelihood-based interventions.
We examined changes in childhood stunting and its determinants after 3 y of exposure to an integrated, multisector intervention and compared these changes with national trends.
A prospective observational trial was conducted across rural sites in 9 sub-Saharan African countries with baseline levels of childhood stunting >20%. A stratified random sample of households and resident children <2 y old from villages exposed to the program were enrolled in the study. Main outcome measures included principal determinants of undernutrition and childhood stunting, which was defined as a height-for-age z score less than -2. National trends in stunting were generated from demographic and health surveys.
Three years after the start of the program in 2005-2006, consistent improvements were observed in household food security and diet diversity, whereas coverage with child care and disease-control interventions improved for most outcomes. The prevalence of stunting in children <2 y old at year 3 of the program (2008-2009) was 43% lower (adjusted OR: 0.57; 95% CI: 0.38, 0.83) than at baseline. The average national stunting prevalence for the countries included in the study had remained largely unchanged over the past 2 decades.
These findings provide encouraging evidence that a package of multisector interventions has the potential to produce reductions in childhood stunting.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 12/2011; 94(6):1632-42. · 6.50 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The hunger component of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) aims to reduce the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half between 1990 and 2015. In low- and middle-income countries, progress has been mixed, with approximately 925 million people hungry and 125 million and 195 million children underweight and stunted, respectively.
To assess global progress on the hunger component of MDG1 and evaluate the success of interventions and country programs in reducing undernutrition.
We review global progress on the hunger component of MDG1, examining experience from 40 community-based programs as well as national efforts to move interventions to scale drawn from the published and gray literature, alongside personal interviews with representatives of governments and development agencies.
Based on this review, most strategies being implemented and scaled are focusing on treatment of malnutrition and rooted within the health sector. While critical, these programs generally address disease-related effects and emphasize the immediate determinants of undernutrition. Other major strategies to tackle undernutrition rely on the production of staple grains within the agriculture sector. These programs address hunger, as opposed to improving the quality of diets within communities. Strategies that adopt multisectoral programming as crucial to address longer-term determinants of undernutrition, such as poverty, gender equality, and functioning food and health systems, remain underdeveloped and under-researched.
This review suggests that accelerating progress toward the MDG1 targets is less about the development of novel innovations and new technologies and more about putting what is already known into practice. Success will hinge on linking clear policies with effective delivery systems in working towards an evidence-based and contextually relevant multisectoral package of interventions that can rapidly be taken to scale.
Food and nutrition bulletin 06/2011; 32(2):144-58. · 2.11 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malnutrition affects a large number of people throughout the developing world. Approaches to reducing malnutrition rarely focus on ecology and agriculture to simultaneously improve human nutrition and environmental sustainability. However, evidence suggests that interdisciplinary approaches that combine the knowledge bases of these disciplines can serve as a central strategy in alleviating hidden hunger for the world's poorest.
To describe the role that ecological knowledge plays in alleviating hidden hunger, considering human nutrition as an overlooked ecosystem service.
We review existing literature and propose a framework that expands on earlier work on econutrition. We provide novel evidence from case studies conducted by the authors in western Kenya and propose a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration to alleviate hidden hunger, increase agricultural productivity, and improve environmental sustainability.
Our review supports the concept that an integrated approach will impact human nutrition. We provide evidence that increased functional agrobiodiversity can alleviate anemia, and interventions that contribute to environmental sustainability can have both direct and indirect effects on human health and nutritional well-being.
Integrated and interdisciplinary approaches are critical to reaching development goals. Ecologists must begin to consider not only how their field can contribute to biodiversity conservation, but also, the relationship between biodiversity and provisioning of nontraditional ecosystem services such as human health. Likewise, nutritionists and agronomists must recognize that many of the solutions to increasing human wellbeing and health can best be achieved by focusing on a healthy environment and the conservation of ecosystem services.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the World's greatest challenges is to secure sufficient and healthy food for all, and to do so in an environmentally sustainable manner. This review explores the interrelationships of food, health, and environment, and their role in addressing chronic micronutrient deficiencies, also known as "hidden hunger", affecting over two billion people worldwide. While the complexity and underlying determinants of undernutrition have been well-understood for decades, the scaling of food and nutrition system approaches that combine sustainable agriculture aimed at improved diet diversity and livelihoods have been limited in their development and implementation. However, an integrated system approach to reduce hidden hunger could potentially serve as a sustainable opportunity.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 02/2011; 8(2):358-73. · 2.00 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of children under five years in age are chronically undernourished. As new investments and attention galvanize action on African agriculture to reduce hunger, there is an urgent need for metrics that monitor agricultural progress beyond calories produced per capita and address nutritional diversity essential for human health. In this study we demonstrate how an ecological tool, functional diversity (FD), has potential to address this need and provide new insights on nutritional diversity of cropping systems in rural Africa.
Data on edible plant species diversity, food security and diet diversity were collected for 170 farms in three rural settings in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nutritional FD metrics were calculated based on farm species composition and species nutritional composition. Iron and vitamin A deficiency were determined from blood samples of 90 adult women. Nutritional FD metrics summarized the diversity of nutrients provided by the farm and showed variability between farms and villages. Regression of nutritional FD against species richness and expected FD enabled identification of key species that add nutrient diversity to the system and assessed the degree of redundancy for nutrient traits. Nutritional FD analysis demonstrated that depending on the original composition of species on farm or village, adding or removing individual species can have radically different outcomes for nutritional diversity. While correlations between nutritional FD, food and nutrition indicators were not significant at household level, associations between these variables were observed at village level.
This study provides novel metrics to address nutritional diversity in farming systems and examples of how these metrics can help guide agricultural interventions towards adequate nutrient diversity. New hypotheses on the link between agro-diversity, food security and human nutrition are generated and strategies for future research are suggested calling for integration of agriculture, ecology, nutrition, and socio-economics.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e21235. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To feed the world without further damaging the planet, Jeffrey Sachs and 24 foodsystem experts call for a global data collection and dissemination network to track the myriad impacts of different farming practices.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A Green Revolution for Africa is emerging after decades of neglect of Africa’s agricultural systems. To counter these years
of neglect, the then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for “a uniquely African Green Revolution”. Since then,
a number of initiatives have emerged or are emerging to realize this important vision. As more money and attention galvanizes
much-needed action on the African Green Revolution, a vigorous debate is required to ensure that the mission of improving
food security on the world’s poorest continent is achieved in the most effective, comprehensive and inclusive manner possible.
The African Green Revolution cannot be limited to increasing yields of staple crops but must be designed as a driver of sustainable
development, which includes gender empowerment and nutrition elements. This paper first reviews the Asian Green Revolution’s
successes and shortcomings from a nutrition and gender perspective and then outlines what the global community can do to ensure
that some of the limitations of the Asian Green Revolution, specifically with regard to nutrition and gender, are not repeated.
KeywordsNutrition-Agriculture-Green revolution-Gender-Food security