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New books – Family farming and nutrition

2014 Global Nutrition Report: Actions and Accountability to Accelerate the World’s Progress on Nutrition


Heidi Fritschel, Terra Carter, John Whitehead, and Andrew Marble (Eds), 2014, International Food Policy Research Institute, ISBN: 978-0-89629-564-3

Malnutrition affects one in two people on the planet. Of these, 165 million children under the age of five are estimated to be stunted (i.e. low height for age). Two billion people are estimated to be deficient in one or more micronutrients. Nearly 1.5 billion people are estimated to be overweight and over 500 million to be obese. These conditions all have severe consequences for survival, for morbidity, and for the ability of individuals, the economy and society to thrive. In relation to the scale that these problems imply, the allocation of public resources to their prevention and amelioration is minuscule. Resources to specific nutrition programmes amount to a small fraction of one per cent of domestic or aid budgets.

The Global Nutrition Report will convene existing processes, highlight progress in combating malnutrition and identify gaps and propose ways to fill them. Through this, the Report will help to guide action, build accountability and spark increased commitment for further progress towards reducing malnutrition much faster. At its core, the Report aims to empower nutrition champions at the national level to better inform policy decisions and to strengthen the case for increased resources. A repository of global and country-level nutrition data and analysis, the Report will also provide civil society organisations (CSOs), donors, governments, the business sector, researchers, the media and engaged citizens with evidence of the current scale of malnutrition, the measures being taken to combat it, as well as highlighting what more needs to be done.

Networks for Resilience: The Role of Social Capital

Quinn Bernier and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, 2014, International Food Policy Research Institute., Washington, DC, ISBN: 978-0-89629-567-4

This report investigates the under-explored role that local forms of social capital, in particular local organizations and social networks, play in enhancing resilience. The case studies used are of Ethiopian funeral societies and Filipino migrant networks. Local social capital systems can play a positive role in individual, household, and community risk-smoothing and risk-sharing practices by providing bonding, bridging, and linking capital that allow people to better cope, adapt, and transform. Impact is context specific, however, and can vary in the strength and the social group or groups covered. Community groups are also generally much more effective in dealing with shocks that affect individual members rather than many in the group, but face challenges when mobilizing resources that are outside of communities.

The Synergy of Microfinance: Fighting Poverty by Moving beyond Credit

Binod B. Nayak, December 2014, SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd., 372 pages ISBN: 9789351500421

The Synergy of Microfinance underlines the significance of innovative financial and risk management tools and non-financial complementary services by microfinance institutions in poverty alleviation. It undertakes a nuanced analysis of financial instruments— microcredit, microsavings, microinsurance, microleasing and payment systems for money transfer— and non-financial services such as social intermediation, livelihood promotion and access to broader market place. Given the diminished expectations on microcredit impact, the book highlights results from randomized control trial (RCT)-based studies around the world. It argues that exclusive access to microcredit alone may not suffice in alleviating poverty on a mass scale and could pose a financial risk for poor households or households that over-borrow. There is also a discussion on the Andhra Pradesh microfinance crisis of 2010, and the developments that took place in its aftermath.