Continuing our series on the work of Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellows at their policy placements, here’s Meghan Anson with an update from Concern Worldwide:
Concern Worldwide is a non-governmental, international humanitarian aid organization dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty. Concern works in over 25 of the world’s poorest countries, responding to emergencies and carrying out development work focusing on health and nutrition, food security and livelihoods, and education.
In October 2016, I moved to Dublin, Ireland and joined Concern’s small but very mighty International Advocacy Team as a Nutrition Advocacy Officer. While Concern’s operational mandate is broad and spans a number of sectors across the development and humanitarian space, Dublin’s advocacy efforts are focused on the hunger and resilience “sweet spot,” where the organization’s hunger and resilience programming overlaps, often in the world’s most fragile contexts. This focus is rooted in the belief that ending hunger for good requires action and political will across three key areas, namely:
- Addressing the immediate and underlying causes of undernutrition,
- Building resilience to help communities withstand recurring food crises, and
- Delivering rapid and flexible humanitarian assistance targeted at those who need it most.
As Nutrition Advocacy Officer, my role is to help ensure that the Irish Government has a measurable impact on the nutritional status and resilience of the world’s poorest people through long-term policy, financing, and programming commitments. While Ireland has made nutrition and resilience related commitments through a variety of international policy frameworks, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is the job of the international community – and advocates – to hold governments to account for implementing and ultimately successfully meeting these commitments.
Practically speaking, my day to day efforts are focused on the following:
- Tracking Ireland’s political and financial commitments on hunger and nutrition, including analyzing progress made toward its commitments and identifying advocacy opportunities.
- Reporting on country-level progress made toward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, particularly around nutrition targets and indicators, in countries where Concern works at the nutrition and resilience “sweet spot.”
- Supporting the development, launch, and dissemination of the Global Hunger Index (GHI), an annual report jointly published by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern. The GHI describes the state of hunger – worldwide and country by country – and spotlights those regions and countries where action to address hunger is most urgently needed.
- Representing Concern’s nutrition advocacy at the European Union-level through groups like Generation Nutrition and CONCORD.
- Representing Concern in the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Network Advocacy Group and serving as a liaison between select Concern country programmes and the respective SUN civil society alliances in those countries.
Although my policy year role represents a large departure from my field year role as a Nutrition Advisor in Malawi, my technical background in nutrition, paired with my experience working in a Concern country program and with Malawi’s SUN civil society alliance, has positioned me to approach and inform my advocacy work using a nutrition lens. This helps me to analyze nutrition-related commitments and progress with a unique perspective and to better understand and translate the potential impacts on the ground. Over these last five months, I’ve learned that advocacy has a critical role to play at the global, regional, and national levels and that our ultimate goal – ending hunger for good – cannot be achieved without it.