'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Notes: Malnutrition in Afghanistan 

This post marks the first in what will likely be an ongoing series of short posts that I'll be titling Book Notes. Not reviews (although I plan to write full reviews of other books when I find the inclination and time), they instead will consist of short observations on various of the many books that pass through my hands as part of my job.

Today's entry concerns a report from the South Asia Human Development Fund Department of the World Bank: Malnutrition in Afghanistan: Scale, Scope, Causes, and Potential Response

Finding this before me, I thought to myself, "Well, I probably won't like or agree with it, but let's see what they have to say about the effects of the war on malnutrition in Afghanistan." Here's about the only reference, beyond a generic reference to conflict, that even alludes to the war:
Public investments in nutrition are critical to support economic and social development and to provide increased stability supportive of national security.
That's it. The chapter on "Political Economy and Capacity to Address Undernutrition" has this to say:
This chapter examines the political economy, institutional structures, and implementation arrangements currently in place in Afghanistan to address undernutrition in relevant sectors. The capacity of theses structures and arrangements to implement effective, scaled-up nutrition interventions is also assessed. Two pillars of the Global Action Plan for Nutrition directly relate to this analysis.

The first pillar is the degree to which nutrition has achieved sufficient salience in the policy arena to be positioned as a foundation for national development. The following question is posed: Does nutrition have high-level support in the central government? The second pillar involves the following question: Does existing central-level support (of whatever magnitude) translate to a strong policy and programming infrastructure and capacity for provincial and lower-level implementation?
There you go, those are the salient political economy issues related to malnutrition in Afghanistan according to the World Bank.

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