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close this book4th Report on the World Nutrition Situation - Nutrition throughout the Life Cycle (ACC/SCN, 2000, 138 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document5.1 Trends in Numbers of People Affected
View the document5.2 Overview of the Humanitarian Response to Emergencies
View the document5.3 Trends in Assessment Methodologies
View the document5.4 Trends in Food and Nutrition Response Programmes
View the document5.5 Trends in Information Sharing and Learning
View the document5.6 Case Studies: The Scale and Severity of Nutritional Problems among Refugees and Displaced Populations
View the document5.7 Future Directions
View the documentSummary


The 1990s have seen an increase in the number of both conflict - and natural disaster-related humanitarian crises. The resultant humanitarian caseload and aid response has fluctuated through the decade, with a clear peak in 1994 and another likely one in 1999. The “system” has responded to mixed effect, while grappling with a number of complex issues.

Humaneness, or the relief of suffering, is a basic principle of all humanitarian action, which may, incorrectly, suggest rather limited interventions aimed at only providing immediate relief. Experience has shown that the most effective humanitarian actions addressing nutritional problems of refugees and displaced populations are those that are able to address both the immediate and the underlying causes of undernutrition. Examples include combined strategies that provide immediate food assistance while at the same time addressing wider public health problems and that are able to take into account the social, economic, and political determinants of under-nutrition, including livelihood rebuilding. For this reason there is considerable support among the nutrition professionals of the humanitarian system for a broader problem-solving approach to assessing and responding to nutrition problems, often referred to as public nutrition, which is described at the beginning of this chapter.

For this strategy to be implemented effectively, it is crucial to raise levels of awareness and understanding among all actors in the humanitarian system, and across all sectors, about the impact of their actions on nutrition. A wide range of strategies are needed to achieve this, including developing improved multisectoral working relationships.8