DECEMBER 13, 2013
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About the Author:
Suresh Chandra Babu is a Senior Research Fellow and a Program Leader for the Capacity Strengthening Program at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC. He has published more than 65 peer-reviewed journal papers and 13 books and monographs. Over the years, he has trained more than 2,000 people in food policy research and analysis. He has held visiting honorary professorships at American University, Washington, DC; Indira Gandhi National Open University, India; University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa; and Zhejiang University, China. He currently serves on several academic journals including, Food Security, Agricultural Economics Research Review; African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Journal of Sustainable Development, Food and Nutrition Bulletin, and African Journal of Food, Nutritional and Development. Dr. Babu received his PhD and MS in Economics from Iowa State University. He completed his MSc and BSc in Agriculture at the Agricultural Universities in Tamil Nadu, India.
Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring Systems and the Food Crisis: Lessons from the Last Three Decades
Designing food security and nutrition policies and programs, monitoring their implementation, evaluation of their benefits and costs, and assessing their impact on the targeted population crucially depend on the national information systems that collect, process, and analyze data and inform policy makers for action. Yet in several developing countries, such systems continue to be poorly organized inadequately capacitated and weakly implemented. Better understanding operational challenges in designing and implementation food security and nutrition monitoring systems in developing countries can help improve food policy decision making. This paper reviews the historical development of the food security and nutrition monitoring systems and their role in responding to food security and nutrition emergencies, program design, and evidence-based policy making. Based on a series of consultations in 12 developing countries and two regional consultations held in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (between 2009–2012) in the context of recent food crisis, this paper brings out the issues, constraints and challenges faced by the policy makers in establishing and effectively using the food security monitoring systems for policy making and program interventions. It analyses key elements of institutional architecture and mutual accountability in the food policy process that enable effective use of information in food policymaking. It identifies the role of individual, institutional and system capacity to design and implement food security and nutrition monitoring systems in the context of developing resilient food systems, transformation of agriculture sector, and linking agriculture to nutrition and health. The paper summarizes lessons learned in the last thirty years for strategic investments in monitoring systems that can enhance the quality of food security and nutrition decision-making and program implementation. The paper concludes that a monitoring system that is responsive policy making needs, demand driven, well-capacitated, and accountable to the contributors and the users of the information is more likely to be sustainable and successful.
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