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TURNING ECONOMIC GROWTH INTO NUTRITION-SENSITIVE GROWTH 45 Third, social sector outcomes are also critical components of nutrition-sensitive


development. Cross-country evidence suggests that the most robust nutrition- sensitive elements of social sector development are poverty reduction and health, education, and family planning outcomes. Infrastructure investments may also be important, but the evidence thus far is somewhat weak. And as with overall economic growth, the analysis of successes and failures suggests that these kinds of investments are a necessary but not sufficient condition for sustained reductions in malnutrition. The main caveats to these conclusions are measurement error and data avail-


ability. Data on the quality of diets are weak, and the sample of proven success stories is fairly small. Hence, it will be important to revisit these inferences in the light of new experiences. There are still no definitive answers as to why there appears to be an agriculture disconnect in India, although existing research suggests that there may in fact be multiple disconnects, with poverty, nutrition, education, health, and family planning policies all regarded as possible suspects. To go about developing more nutrition-sensitive growth strategies, there are


obviously important impediments that need to be overcome. First, malnutrition is often misperceived by policymakers as a simple food problem, rather than a complex multisectoral problem. Welcome efforts to raise awareness of the problem mostly focus on outcomes—such as the Global Hunger Index—but more emphasis is needed on monitoring inputs, including better tracking of more specific nutri- tion policies. Second, researchers and policymakers need to encourage more cross-country learn-


ing. Despite notable success stories, remarkably few countries have large-scale multisectoral nutrition strategies in place, and there is consequently little evidence of cross-country learning. Yet two prominent examples show that it can be done. In Thailand, the main champions of the nutrition program came from health, education, and agriculture, and these champions pushed other policymakers into receiving nutrition education and training from overseas. Hence, it was possible to develop an integrated, multipronged approach. In Bangladesh, the learning was more explicit, since Bangladesh’s Integrated Nutrition Program was adapted from Tamil Nadu’s program. But these examples are far too few, suggesting it is essential for researchers to facilitate more cross-country learning, and for policymakers to provide the political impetus to translate knowledge into action.


Concluding Remarks Results support the plausible hypothesis that economic growth reduces child- hood malnutrition through five important channels: increased food availability, reductions in poverty, improvements in female education, increased access to


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