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LIDC and Bloomsbury Colleges pull together to beat hunger

In the next few days, eliminating undernutrition will be the focus of several major international events, including the launch of The Lancet Maternal and Child Nutrition Series (6 June) and the ‘Nutrition for Growth: Beating hunger through business and science’ meeting (8 June) convened by the governments of Brazil and UK and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

The Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) a collaboration of three Bloomsbury Colleges supported by the London International Development Centre (LIDC), is actively contributing to these events and to the research required to eliminate undernutrition.

LCIRAH was established in 2010 under a five-year £3.5m grant from The Leverhulme Trust. The Centre brings together researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and their partners to develop research approaches and methodologies that integrate agricultural and health research with a focus on international development goals.

Specific interventions like food supplementation are proven tools to address undernutrition in pregnant women and infants where it is most critical, but experts agree that additional and more sustainable approaches will be needed. One of these is to make agricultural production more ‘nutrition sensitive’ by improving the production, availability and consumption of foods rich in micronutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, eggs and milk.

LCIRAH focuses its research on how we can improve nutrition through agricultural interventions, such as the introduction of nutritious crop varieties, educational programmes or government policies that make healthy foods more affordable.

Prof. Jeff Waage OBE, Chair of LCIRAH and Director of LIDC, said:
‘Current agricultural research directed at reducing hunger needs to be better designed to ensure delivery of nutritional outcomes as well. We need to improve not only food security but diet quality. This requires that we bring agriculture and health researchers together to design and evaluate new ways of improving nutrition through changing agricultural and food systems’.

A recently published series of LCIRAH policy briefs reveals that:

1)    There are gaps in existing research on agriculture for improved nutrition. Many research programmes evaluating agricultural interventions fail to measure nutritional outcomes. Important indirect effects of agricultural change on health, for instance increasing wealth in farming communities, are not well understood.
Download the brief

2)    Women are critical to nutrition, in their multiple roles as farmers, mothers and carers. Agricultural interventions place different demands on women’s and men’s resources and time, and need to be carefully thought through to have a positive nutritional effect.
Download the brief

On 13-14 June 2013 LCIRAH will hold its third annual conference. This year the event will bring together 150 international experts to discuss ‘Developing methods in agriculture and health research’. The conference aims to offer a platform for exchanging ideas and foster a community of researchers working at the intersection of agriculture and health. Nutrition will be one of the themes taken up by the presentations and posters at the conference.

Related resources:

LCIRAH Policy Briefing 'Developing gender-sensitive approaches to agriculture, health and nutrition: recognising gendered time and budget constraints'

LCIRAH Policy Briefing 'Research on agriculture for improved nutrition in low income settings: how are we building the evidence, and where are the gaps?'

Prof. Jeff Waage, Director of LIDC and Chair of LCIRAH takes part in a Guardian roundtable on undernutrition

LCIRAH conference on 13-14 June ‘Developing methods in agriculture and health research’

New study published in the Lancet co-authored by Professor Ricardo Uauy of LSHTM

LIDC/ LCIRAH member and SOAS Professor speaks in a Lancet Symposium Panel on Maternal and Child Nutrition