Carly Hayes, University of Waterloo (Nexos Comunitarios intern)
2030 seems to be the year that everyone can’t stop talking about. The year, far enough in the future, when we can eliminate poverty, achieve zero hunger, and reduce inequality, among a number of other important, lofty goals. The 2030+ Agenda, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, took over where the Millennium Development goals somewhat disappointingly left off. The stakes are high, especially for nutrition: the stated goal is to achieve zero hunger in 15 years, and we’re already a year into the challenge.
When looking at the country level, it certainly seems that Peru is up to that challenge. The government of Peru has been praised in a multitude of forums for its commitment to reducing rates of stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for age). Currently, Peru holds the top spot on the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI), primarily due to the political commitment espoused by leaders to tackling this problem through multi-sectoral, multi-departmental approaches. This achievement was based on Peru’s relative commitment to the other countries in the index, measured through Borda scores of commitment to access, availability, and utilization of food and key nutrients. Peru is also listed in the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Global Nutrition Report as the country with the fourth-greatest budget allocation to nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions, at 4.64 percent of general government expenditures, of those 24 countries that provided data.
While these international measurements demonstrate positive progress, geographic inequalities persist, especially for those living in the jungle and High Andean communities such as Cuncani. Data on the malnutrition problem of Cuncani is not easily available, nor consistently collected by municipal of regional governments for reporting. This omission of the poorest communities can skew results positively, and reduce the amount of social resources available for these communities. Further, while Peru has demonstrated such high levels of both political and financial commitment, it is unclear as to whether these commitments are translating into outcomes for the poorest communities. The HANCI itself is a measure based on the decoupling of commitments from results-based measurements. When we look more closely at the data on budget allocations, we can see that the majority of budget spending focuses on nutrition-sensitive programming, rather than nutrition-specific. These problems highlight a critical factor for achieving true advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals – the development of appropriate and holistic measures of progress. This will require indicators that go beyond increasing Gross Domestic Product to indicators that are culturally relevant and measure impact at the community level. In order to make meaningful strides towards achievement of the SDGs, Peru will need to look inward towards addressing these inequalities and adapting social programs to prevent remote communities from being left behind.
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute Global Nutrition Report, 2016
However, the SDGs represent an important feature that the MDGs lacked – an understanding about the inter-linkages between a multitude of development goals, including those between nutrition, clean water and sanitation, good health and well-being, sustainable cities and communities, and quality education. This feature has long been something that Nexos Comunitarios has built into our hypothesis of change, recognizing how quality education and economic growth depend on achieving good health for all community members, and vice versa. That is why NC has chosen to focus on identifying the root causes of malnutrition, in order to uphold the human right of Cuncani citizens to safe, adequate, and nutritious food that will pave the way for the achievement of future goals, while keeping principles of interculturality and human rights at the forefront of everything we do. It is our hope that with the driving motivation of the SDGs, Peru will continue to be an international example by extending their efforts to the most vulnerable communities.