News - August 24, 2018

‘Make it uncomfortable for governments to do little about hunger’

Albert Sikkema

Lawrence Haddad, director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), wants to make it uncomfortable for governments to do little about hunger and nutrition. ‘You and me, we need to keep the issues of hunger and malnutrition on the front burner.’ This is part 2 of a series about the upcoming conference on sustainable development goals in Wageningen.


How are you personally involved in achieving the SDGs, in particular eradicating hunger?

‘I lead GAIN with the aim of improving the consumption of nutritious foods for all people, especially the most vulnerable. GAIN does this through ten different programmes delivered on the ground in nine countries in Africa and Asia. We aim to bring governments, businesses and civil society together to build alliances that malnutrition cannot resist.

My personal role is about (1) making sure the programmes have impact on diets, (2) making sure the issue of nutrition, and the quality of diets in particular, remains high on the development agenda and (3) looking for like-minded people and organisations that we can work with to build these “irresistible alliances”. The first involves making sure we design, implement and evaluate programmes well; the second involves briefings with those in power in public and private sectors, writing op-eds, giving interviews and lots of presentations; and the third requires constantly scanning for, interacting with and evaluating potential partners.’

In your opinion, which concrete action or measures will have a significant impact on achieving these SDGs?

‘The main thing we have to do is to make it uncomfortable for governments to do little about hunger. When hunger and malnutrition levels are high, there is a tendency to think this is normal, or that it is a “curse”. It is neither. The persistence of these issues reflects choices made about how to spend scarce resources that have alternative uses. People, the media, civil society, you and me, we need to keep the issue on the front burner, bringing facts about the scale, distribution and consequences of hunger and malnutrition to the table, and we have to make it easy for governments and business leaders to implement effective strategies, solutions, policies and programmes to combat it.’

On 30 and 31 August, WUR will be hosting the SDG conference to find out how we can implement the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Senior and young speakers from around the world will be giving speeches and attending workshops. What do these participants want to achieve?