DFAT links nutrition to its major development priorities
Australia’s government has not developed a strategic framework for nutrition policies. It considers nutrition as a development challenge that is linked to its major policy priorities such as health and agriculture. Nutrition is integrated into both the health and agriculture strategy documents. The ‘Health for Development Strategy 2015-2020’ refers to nutrition as a crucial “pre-condition for good health” and has combined it with its water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) strategic priority area. It is mentioned under the priority area “Investments in improved access to WASH and nutrition”. This focus area emphasizes nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life for all children and for girls additionally during adolescence.
Nutrition is also integrated into the agriculture strategy, ‘Strategy for Australia’s Aid Investment in Agriculture, Fisheries and Water’. Enhancing food, nutrition and water security are identified as major contributors to promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, and strengthening stability in partner countries. DFAT published a report in 2015, ‘A window of opportunity: Australian aid and child undernutrition’, that discusses the alignment of Australia’s nutrition interventions with best practices.
Nutrition-specific: Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.
Nutrition-sensitive: Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).
Within health and agriculture policy, nutrition is an elevated development priority but receives little funding
Australia continues to focus on sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia, due to their higher rates of undernutrition. This geographic focus deviates from Australia’s overall concentration on the Indo-Pacific region. Australia is involved in the ‘Nutrition for Growth’ initiative and has joined the ‘Scaling up Nutrition’ (SUN) movement.
The government disbursed US$4 million to nutrition-specific projects in 2016. These are projects that are classified under the ‘basic nutrition’ purpose code in data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System (CRS) data. Australia’s nutrition-specific development assistance has been in steady decline in recent years, decreasing from US$9 million in 2012.
According to self-reported data in the Global Nutrition Report for 2016 and 2017, Australia disbursed US$88 million to nutrition-sensitive interventions in 2014 and US$6 million to nutrition-specific interventions in 2015. Australia reports nutrition-sensitive data to the Global Nutrition Report biennially and is expected to do so for 2015 and 2016 in the 2018 report.
DFAT leads policy development and decision-making
Nutrition financing policies and decision-making processes are spread across development areas, reflecting Australia’s cross-sectoral perspective. Policy development and decision-making in these fields (e.g., health and agriculture) is led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and implemented by the respective governmental agencies.