What drives policy reform? A cross-country review of micronutrient policy change in Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia

Posted on June 11, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the sluggishness of governments in addressing significant development challenges. This is especially true for the areas of food security and nutrition. Our recently published paper highlights bottlenecks in the policy process that stall effective implementation. Using the novel Kaleidoscope Model for Policy Change, our case study of Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia suggests that there are key drivers of and constraints to policy change.

The study draws on evidence from micronutrient policies in the three countries. A review of policy approaches related to iodine, vitamin A and iron was conducted. This review included supplementation, fortification and biofortification policies. The study finds that:

  1. Credible evidence and knowledge are crucial for policy change to occur
  2. International attention to nutrition specifically, focusing events and guidelines has driven policy reform
  3. Weak coordination of the wide range of stakeholders and implementers involved in the policy process, including the private sector, could stall the momentum

Food insecurity and malnutrition are not new phenomena. Globally, 821 million people face hunger, and a further 135 million people face crisis levels of hunger or worse. The World Food Programme projects that the coronavirus will push this number up to 265 million people. Children are most at risk of hunger and malnutrition. The International Food Policy Research Institute predicts that he COVID-19 pandemic will have irreversible nutritional damage for children in developing countries. Well-targeted policies are needed to counter large-scale negative impacts. This study is timely, offering research evidence on how to ensure that policies move from planning to implementation.    

- Author Elizabeth Mkandawire
Published by Elizabeth Mkandawire

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