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Nutrition Manual for Humanitarian Action

Alain Mourey has been a nutritional advisor for ICRC for 24 years. During this period Alain has had unique exposure to many of the world's worst conflicts and resulting nutritional crises. After several years of writing (and no doubt re-writing), Alain has produced a 'Nutrition Manual for Humanitarian Action'. Alain's unique experience over several decades should make this book essential reading. The review below has been written by Dr Pierre Perrin, Chief Medical Officer of the ICRC (Eds)

For decades now, nutritional action has largely been confined to directly responding to cases of malnutrition. This Manual departs from such a narrow approach. The author considers nutrition in its broadest sense and derives practical recommendations for humanitarian action.

The manual first provides an in-depth vision of nutrition, based on a coherent range of information on nutritional requirements, food and the feeding process. It demonstrates the interrelation between nutrition and other relevant sectors, notably the economy. The social dimensions of food are also discussed thoroughly. This first section provides the scientific basis of the Manual.

In the second part, the author analyses the mechanism and impact of crisis at all levels: human, political, economic, ecological, social, cultural, and physiological. This section represents the core of the Manual because it provides the logic behind the need for integrated approaches to response.

The third part of the manual is devoted to humanitarian action, starting with basic principles, assessment methods and tools. It then moves on to locate nutrition within the legal framework set by international laws; and as such reminds humanitarian operators that the operational response to nutritional disorders is not simply technical, but also pertains to the protection of food access and the rights of victims.

There are also the inevitable chapters devoted to the 'classic' nutrition actions, namely general food distributions, nutritional rehabilitation and nutrition information. The author discusses these first in terms of planning: is such action required and, if so, how should it be carried out?

The sections on practical implementation that follow are located within the scientific elements described in previous chapters.

The author shares his extensive personal field experience with readers, and has managed to connect scientific theory and practice, thereby providing an operational and professional perspective.

The book is available in French, to be followed in English. It costs CHF 43.-/and can be ordered online at http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/p0820

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Nutrition Manual for Humanitarian Action. Field Exchange 29, December 2006. p33. www.ennonline.net/fex/29/humanitarianaction

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