Reading Veronica’s contribution “’Jeg snakker litt norsk’: Instruction manual on how to be a foreigner in Spire”, I could not have agreed more about the experience as a foreigner in Spire.
Being myself an international student at SUM, I had heard about Spire somehow-sometime but really got to know what it stands for by attending the filmvisning of the beautiful movie Wind of Change. By then, I was just about to leave for my fieldwork, but I decided that as soon as I’ll be back in Oslo, I want to join Spire and get to know better the people who make such good work happen. And there I was, back from India, a bit confused but still convinced I want to meet Spire’s matutvalget and see how I like it. Little surprising I was fond of this group right away and in this short time that I have been a member now I feel I’ve not only learnt a lot but also found new friendships. Indeed, I always enjoy spending time with this amazing group that is so full of ideas and energy to make their voices heard and to work for a better future.
You may wonder now, what brought me to the food security group. The answer is as straight forward as it is simple: my master thesis and the fact, that I am looking at conditional cash transfers as a means to improve food security in India.
A stable democracy with a thriving economy, India has been an inspiring example for many other developing countries in recent years; yet, it remains the home of one third of the world’s poor and of a quarter of the world’s hungry. Just at the beginning of this year, the HUNGaMA survey revealed that in fact 42 percent of India’s children under five are undernourished. This has been considered “a matter of national shame” by Prime Minister Singh and fueled the debate over costs and benefits of currently running anti-poor schemes. In this context, suggestions of so-called Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) have received increasing attention as a possible substitute for food rations and have even been included in the Food Security Bill that has been tabled in the Parliament last December. However, as experiences with other cash-based schemes have been rather disillusioning, with delays and corruption being significant problems, I will take a close look at the suggested plans and the context in which CCTs are supposed to be embedded. So, for now the question whether cash transfers are indeed more suitable to address the causes of malnutrition remains open but I hope one day I will be able to write a new blog entrance here that will report on the advances made on fighting malnutrition in India as well as in all the other countries that suffer from severe food insecurities.
In this sense, and to borrow Veronica’s words, let’s keep up with the good work!
– Lotte Liegmann (Matutvalget)