|Managing Successful Nutrition Programmes - Nutrition policy discussion paper No. 8 (UNSSCN, 1991, 152 p.)|
Because undernutrition and malnutrition are the result of different economic and social determinants, it is difficult in field studies - not being double blind, randomized and placebo controlled - to attribute significant outcomes to specific interventions. And yet the need for successful nutrition programmes is becoming more compelling. They are required by decision-makers who could formulate nutrition policies and adapt the major features of success to the local characteristics in their countries. The problem is still very much with us. Although in some developing countries rates of malnutrition have diminished, the total numbers of the malnourished are increasing as a result of population growth.
Success stimulates imagination and action. Professionals and technical staff engaged in nutrition, particularly in the developing world, will identify lessons to learn and be prompted to apply similar approaches to those that led to such concrete outcomes. For the international community of agencies, governmental and non-governmental, with prime interest in food and nutrition issues, positive results are important for changing course in ongoing projects or to sponsor new ones and, in general, to review their policies and investments.
One of the most effective mechanisms for the coordination of diverse institutions committed to synergistic goals is the dissemination of information. It facilitates communications, creates actual understanding, a common language, and stimulates joint actions. This is one approach of the ACC/SCN to fulfill its statutory responsibility of harmonizing policies and activities in nutrition of the United Nations system.
A Report on Managing Successful Nutrition Programmes is a contribution of the SCN to what should become an increasing catalogue of similar results of diverse nutrition interventions. Although the document contains a chapter on evaluation of five of the programmes selected, the focus is on management, i.e. the effective use of available human, financial, and material resources to reach pre-determined objectives. This is a neglected area in the formulation and implementation of programmes. The "management style" of planners, decision-makers, and executives may explain why we apply in nutrition much less than we know. Alan Berg has stated it clearly: "Our policy understanding of what to do is in most places far ahead of our understanding of how to do it There are many good policies in place. There are many good programmes in place ... But implementation is often appalling,"1 It follows that although for some, management may not be attractive, it is essential.
1 Completing the Food Chain. Papers and Proceedings of a Colloquia organized by the Smithsonian Institution, page 161. Edited by Paula M. Hirschoff and Neil G. Kotler. Washington, D.C. 1989.
The Report makes it clear that effective management, with careful attention to detail in the different components of this discipline, explained, in most cases, why and how objectives were accomplished and technologies showed their efficiency. It became evident that management cannot continue as a second fiddle in the orchestra for implementing human development. It should be included among the main instruments.
Subject to the availability of funds, the SCN intends to continue the analysis and publication of successful nutrition programmes as a significant contribution to the reduction of malnutrition in the developing world.