Andrew Mitchell: Combating Malnutrition Needs 'Smarter' Response

    Andrew Mitchell, U.K. secretary of state for international development, speaks with flood-affected children in Pir Sabak during his visit to Pakistan in August. Mitchell said the fight against malnutrition requires a more intelligent response. Photo by: Vicki Francis / Department for International Development

    The fight against malnutrition is about access to food as much as it is about increasing food production, U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell argues.

    “In the fight against malnutrition this will involve a more intelligent response. If we are serious about fighting malnutrition we must, with others, ensure that our work is directed as much towards increasing people’s access to food and essential nutrients as it is to increasing its supply,” Mitchell writes in The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog.

    There has been difficulty in immediately determining the impacts of global food shocks since national malnutrition statistics are only gathered every two to five years, according to Mitchell.

    “[W]e need better information on malnutrition if we are effectively to tackle the challenge. But we also need to be smarter in our response. We can assume that food price rises hit the poorest hardest, and much of the evidence suggests this is the case. And we can warn against knee-jerk reactions such as export bans, which will limit the amount of food in circulation and therefore tend to exacerbate a spike in prices,” Mitchell notes. 

    About the author

    • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

      As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.