|Essays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 480 p.)|
|15. Viewpoint: Nutrition Planning - What Relevance to Hunger?|
· What is or should be the role of the UN agencies in the battle against malnutrition?
· What role did the Rome conference play? What has been achieved since?
The UN agencies involved in food and nutrition have not escaped the fashions in foreign aid discussed above. The agencies 'neutrality' has been both an asset and a burden. It has enabled them to achieve a worldwide presence and prestige and in some cases, enabled them to bring governments attention to nutrition problems. The burdens, on the other hand are their inherent advisory role with no power whatsoever to implement programmes along the lines of their perceived priorities. These agencies have become an excellent source of collected data and statistics, but they can do very little to change some of the observed trends without the cooperation of each government.
I think we need a UN with more command over the directions our world is taking. Unfortunately, I doubt whether I shall see this change in my lifetime. I am afraid the 'haves' will struggle to the last to maintain their privileges. They often do this by exercising their veto powers, at least in the UN Security Council. Only if real decisions would be taken on a 'one country one vole' basis, with a system that abolishes or diminishes substantially the first and second world veto powers or gives the third world as a block the same powers, would we be in a situation, as humanists, to solve world problems in a rational manner.
The Rome Conference was a typical example of a world forum called and convened in limes of distress that ended up bureaucratizing and diluting the big issues at stake with no substantial agreements reached. As far as I am aware the follow-up groups have not been able to produce any dramatic breakthroughs either, most probably because the overall emergency has passed for the time being. A typical case of management (or non management?) by crisis.