UAMH gives evidence to the International Development Committee inquiry on Zero Hunger in Parliament
How is the UK Government’s work towards achieving SDG2 Zero Hunger by 2030 progressing?

That was the question posed by the International Development Committee’s inquiry. United Against Malnutrition and Hunger made a submission, and our Global Leadership Council member, Dr Mairo Mandara provided oral evidence in Parliament on 30 January 2024.

United Against Malnutrition and Hunger was one of six organisations called to give evidence at the IDC inquiry. Two were local organisations from Malawi and Zimbabwe respectively, followed by the World Food Programme, Action Against Hunger, UNICEF and UAMH.

The Committee, chaired by Sarah Champion MP, has a particular focus on the impact of hunger and malnutrition on the most marginalised and impacted groups, on children, women and girls, and smallholder farmers. Alongside the Committee’s Chair, were David Mundell Co-Chair of the APPG on Nutrition in Development, Chris Law MP, and Nigel Mills MP.

Dr Mandara’s evidence focussed primarily on women and girls and nutrition. An obstetrician, gynaecologist, and public health physician, she set out the importance of scaling-up proven interventions such as multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMS) and ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), of supporting women as smallholder farmers and of integrating donor approaches with national plans. She finished the session by reiterating the need to scale-up proven interventions, highlighting how RUTF and MMS can be the difference between life and death for a child.

Currently based in Northern Nigeria, Dr Mandara is the founder of Girl Child Concerns, an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through health and education. Her interest and activism in gender and nutrition started when working as an undergraduate doctor in maternal health.

“I witnessed a lot of birth complications and infant mortality, and realised young pregnant women short in stature and malnourished were experiencing more problems than taller well-fed women in the same communities. Malnutrition had prevented their pelvis growing properly and led to chronic gynaecological problems, causing physical suffering and social ostracisation.”

That realisation shifted Dr Mandara’s focus to public health. “To me, being a doctor and seeing one person at a time was not good enough. We need strategic systemic solutions to prevent that scale of suffering on girls’ lives.

“Without good nutrition, the body and the brain cannot grow properly. Malnutrition produces lethargy and affects learning. Good nutrition and education are matters of gender equity, they go together, enabling girls to make decisions about who they want to be.”

To achieve SDG2, UAMH’s submission to the IDC called for the UK to support scaling-up proven cost-effective nutrition interventions to women and girls, such as Power 4 (MMS, breast-feeding support, vitamin A supplementation, and RUTF). It called for the UK to support in-country national plans to improve the effectiveness of nutrition programmes, including applying WHO guidelines for the treatment and prevention of wasting. Improved monitoring and evaluation to track progress, and investment in sustainable food systems are required.

UAMH CEO Jonny Oates said: “Malnutrition and hunger should be restored as an international priority for the UK. Good nutrition is foundational to development, and achieving Zero Hunger will unlock progress on other critical development goals including education and gender.”

Asked why the government should act against global malnutrition, Dr Mandara is clear: “The UK should pay attention because it is in every person’s self-interest to do so,” she explained.

“The world is now so porous; it is impossible to stop information flowing. We cannot cut ourselves off from it. Hunger triggers insurgence. It prevents peace, and ignoring it has consequences. The UK has always had influence, which both positively and negatively shaped the world. Now, the UK has an opportunity to use its influence to benefit the global community.”

Read UAMH’s submission to the International Development Committee Inquiry on Zero Hunger here.

Pictured clockwise: Chris Law MP, Sarah Champion MP, Dr Mairo Mandara, David Mundell MP


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