Byiers, B., Seravesi, S. 2013. The enriching business of nutrition. Market-based partnerships and regional approaches to nutrition: What role for CAADP? (ECDPM Discussion Paper 149). Maastricht: ECDPM.
Africa and Asia lose a widely cited 11% of GDP every year due to malnutrition, a figure expected to remain the same for Africa until 2050 unless action is taken. It is with this in mind that international development policy-makers are increasingly underlining the importance of food and nutrition security.
Food security and nutrition are the focus of renewed interest with the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).
The lack of progress on nutrition is partly due to its broad, multi-sectoral nature. Tackling under-nutrition relates to food production and trade, social care, health care, water and sanitation, and education.
Addressing under-nutrition is about the availability of, and access to nutritious food. But it is also about awareness of the importance of nutritional choices, storage and cooking choices, and general health and hygiene – all within the scope of personal food preferences. Ensuring food or nutrition security is therefore about production, consumption, personal behavior, and supporting frameworks.
The Base of Pyramid (BoP) approach is based on the four principles of Awareness, Availability, Access and Affordability, bringing clear parallels with the framework for addressing under-nutrition. This framework is used to examine aspects that can be addressed through market-based multi-stakeholder partnerships.
This non-exhaustive overview is based on desk-research and interviews with stakeholders from a broad cross-section of actors as well as African and international initiatives. To highlight the issues, we provide two short case studies from Royal DSM, a multi-national science company active in health, nutrition and materials; and BASF The Chemicals Company.
While CAADP offers a clear overarching policy framework for addressing food security and undernutrition, concrete nutrition interventions should be envisaged to move beyond food quantity to food quality, while lessons from existing business-CSO partnerships need to be fed into CAADP compacts and investment plans at the national and regional levels.
In the private sector, business environment constraints remain an overriding constraint to any kind of investment, whether carried out as part of a multi-stakeholder partnership, targeted at the Base of Pyramid, for nutrition or otherwise. BoP models need scale by definition, something that a pilot project does not provide.
Among some people in development partner organisations there is still an apparent lack of trust in engaging the private sector food industry and supporting business, but also relating to developed country concerns around food content and quality. Partnerships may provide a channel to ensure accountability.
Business approaches are generally not multi-sectoral or holistic, which faces several implementation challenges that is why there are potential opportunities in a regional approach.