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Issue 01 Editorial

by Lola Nathanail, SCF(UK) and Helen Young, Oxtam.

Welcome to the first edition of the Emergency Nutrition Network's newsletter - Field Exchange. This is an exciting beginning to something we believe will be an important resource for people like you and us - food and nutrition workers tiying to address the nutritional problems faced by people caught up in an emergency.

Delighted as we are to be writing this editorial, we are not the editors. This is not by way of apology, though. One of the most important strengths of Field Exchange is that it is ours - yours and ours. It has emerged from an inter-agency initiative, is funded through inter-agency contributions, contains the writing and experience of a wide range of individuals and will be used by all of us to stimulate our thinking and improve our practice. So why shouldn't we write the first editorial?

The Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN) and the newsletter are a result of a shared commitment to improve our knowledge, stimulate learning and provide vital support and encouragement to people in the field. This commitment was made last year by a number of technical staff representing more than eight UN and NGO agencies. Why? Because we all know the isolating reality of working in difficult conditions with little opptrtunity to share ideas and discuss options; because we all know that research and academic thinking is slow to filter through to the people on the ground; because we all know that, good intentions aside, the support between field and head offices is not always satisfactory; because we all know the frustration of seeing experience unrecorded and lessons quickly forgotten; and because we all know that by pooling our efforts and resources in making this shared commitment, we might begin to improve the situation for everyone. Whether in Paris or London, Bukavu or Thapa we are all striving to continue to learn and develop our skills so that we can improve the effectiveness of the food and nutrition interventions in which we are involved.

This first edition of Field Exchange includes articles from NGO, UN and academic staff, on subjects as diverse as socio-economic enquiry and diagnosis of a vitamin deficiency; covering emergency work in. Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

These are not meant to be academic treatises or polished papers, nor are they meant to open flood gates of criticism and comment. The articles are, however, meant to be reflections of real experience - to stimulate critical thinking and learning within operational agencies and also to provide practical input into research agendas. Think of it as a triangle of cross-fertilising communication and exchange:

Together with the articles, there are also sections which will be regular features in all future newsletters:
updates on research; results of recent evaluations and news about recent conferences and meetings. And of course, no self-respecting newsletter would be complete without a Letters page.

Having highlighted Field Exchange's broad scope and style, we'd like to draw your attention to one particular thread running through this issue; infant feeding in emergencies. This topic is currently being discussed, researched and practised in a number of spheres so it is fitting that it should be reflected in different slots here; there is a review of draft guidelines on infant feeding produced by Oxfam, there is a list of resource materials currently available, a summary overview of a series of inter-agency ad hoc group meetings on infant feeding in emergencies, and there is a letter about an issue over which many of us have been tied up in knots - the best method for artificially feeding babies.

The next issue is already underway and will cover a very different range of subjects from today's. Whatever the detail may be, we'd like to reiterate something we said earlier - this newsletter is our resource; it should meet our needs,.our priorities and reflect our thinking. But for it to work, we all need to invest in it. The ENN co-ordinator (Fiona O'Reilly), together with her co-editor (Jeremy Shoham), are here to make the process easier and more manageable for us. But it requires our input to make it work. We urge you to get involved in Field Exchange - let us know what you think.

Happy reading!

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Reference this page

Lola Nathanail and Helen Young (1997). Issue 01 Editorial. Field Exchange 1, May 1997. p1. www.ennonline.net/fex/1/fromtheeditor