Development Works Number 6, December 2012

Number 6, December 2012 Development Works Bread for the World Institute provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. The Institute educates opinion leaders, policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. Snapshot Peter Verbiscar-Brown/Photoshare • Foreign assistance focuses on prevention. This is critical in the case of early childhood nutrition and, of course, when there is a possibility of famine. • Malnutrition is most dangerous during the 1,000-day window between pregnancy and age 2, when it can cause death or irreversible physical and cognitive damage. Early childhood malnutrition can also drain a country’s development potential. • Yet early malnutrition can be prevented at a modest cost with basic nutrition care. At the Punwami Child Feeding Program run by Crescent Medical Aid in Kenya, children receive their noon meal. There are usually more than 30 children given a meal each day. Why Development Assistance Can’t Wait We’ve all heard the old adages on procrastination: a stitch in time saves nine and so forth. The temptation is to just pay lip service. Maybe this latest problem isn’t truly urgent. A homeowner, for example, may say to herself, maybe I’ll have more time/money/enthusiasm for repairing the gutters next week—or next month. It’s quite possible that nothing will go wrong if the gutter repairs are put off. On the other hand, a bad storm could cause water damage to the interior of the house. The homeowner is playing the odds: what is the likelihood of the worstcase scenario, and how bad would it be if it did happen? 1 • Famine early warning systems are now sophisticated, forecasting accurately up to a year in advance. Foreign assistance cannot prevent natural disasters, but it can help save many lives. • The potential human consequences of inaction— particularly for children under 2—should be weighed carefully in decisions about emergency relief. • U.S. development assistance should focus on resilience— equipping people to develop strategies to cope with threats to their food security.