by Hunger Notes
Hunger Fighters Interview: Andrew Green and Amruta Byatnal
This is part of a series we are doing about real people who are working to fight hunger and poverty in various ways around the world. This episode focuses on the creators of Malnutrition Deeply, a website that provides up to date information on malnutrition issues around the world. Malnutrition Deeply is part of the parent website – News Deeply
Biographic Snapshot: Andrew Green is the managing editor of Malnutrition Deeply. He has reported on health and human rights from three different continents and for a variety of outlets. He was formerly Voice of America’s bureau chief in South Sudan and the web editor at the Center for Public Integrity. Amruta Byatnal is the community editor of Malnutrition Deeply. Before joining News Deeply, she was a program manager at The Africa Seed Access Index project at Cornell University. She has conducted research and consulted for NGOs and private organizations in various countries including Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Cambodia. Previously, she worked as a reporter for The Hindu in India. Malnutrition Deeply is part of the News Deeply set of platforms, led by the journalist Lara Setrakian. News Deeply started Malnutrition Deeply because of the rising need for news and analysis dedicated to the critical issue. Malnutrition Deeply, which just launched this January, aims to bring together those who work on and study malnutrition.
WHES: What drove you to start Malnutrition Deeply and how long have you worked on malnutrition issues?
Amruta: News Deeply approached us individually to launch the site, because they felt it was an issue that needed urgent attention and could benefit from the focused approach of reporting and analysis that the News Deeply model brings. As a journalist and student of gender and food security, I felt that it was an interesting way to not only tell these stories, but also connect people who were working on this issue, and that’s why I came on board as the community editor. Andrew brings his expertise as a long time reporter of health and human rights issues, which is valuable to the platform as we see these issues overlapping more every day.
WHES: Your website covers a range of issues related to malnutrition. Where do you get the majority of your content from and how do you evaluate it?
Andrew: We have a pretty diverse mix of content that can largely be broken down into two streams. There are reported stories, which we produce ourselves, but which we also solicit from a team of great freelance writers around the world. The idea behind these stories is to go beyond breaking news to highlight an innovation, to question received wisdom or to consider the impact of a policy or project. We want to ground these stories in a particular place, but also identify lessons that might be useful to people working on similar problems half a world away.
The rest of our content comes from our community, whether it is Q+As or opinion pieces from experts in the field who are sharing lessons from their experiences or their research.
WHES: One thing our readers often ask us about is how hunger and malnutrition are different in the developed and developing world. Can you talk about that?
Amruta: From our conversations with experts and practitioners both in the developed and developing world, we have found that there are many differences but also a lot of overlaps in the nature of hunger and malnutrition in both these situations. While malnutrition in the developing world is dictated by conflict and poverty and lack of food, in the developed world it can be because of lack of access to the right foods. Of course, as we have seen with obesity, these issues are now spreading to developing countries as well.
WHES: What do you think are the big misconceptions about malnutrition?
Andrew: One of the things that we’re eager to do at Malnutrition Deeply is to explain the many different forms that malnutrition can take, not all of them visible or represented by traditional photos of starving children. But all of them important and worth attention. We want to use the platform to raise awareness about the dangers of micronutrient deficiencies and the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity.
WHES: What has your research shown you are the most important ways or innovations to combat malnutrition?
Andrew: One of the things that we’ve found and have emphasized with our coverage is that there is no single solution to any of the problems of malnutrition. All of the situations we’ve covered where we have identified substantial progress in reducing some form of malnutrition have taken a holistic, cross-sectoral approach.
WHES: So we have many younger readers and we ask this question in all our interviews. What is your best piece of advice for students and young people who want to fight malnutrition and hunger in their own communities?
Amruta: I think the most important lesson we have learned is that malnutrition and hunger are not always visible – they can be hidden, and it’s imperative to notice the markers and the trends to identify them. It’s also necessary to be aware of the economics and politics of policy making both at the local and global levels, and understand why certain decisions that affect the most vulnerable people are made the way they are. So our advice to students would be to not limit yourselves to a single discipline, but look beyond the obvious and to keep questioning the status quo.
WHES: What’s next for Malnutrition Deeply
Andrew: We’re continuing to expand our coverage, both geographically, but also in terms of the issues that we’re addressing. In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out series that look at specific, critical issues in some significant depth. We’ll also continue to expand the roster of people who are contributing their expertise to the Malnutrition Deeply community. Ultimately, we want to become the hub for nutrition experts and also people who are interested in learning about nutrition to visit, to engage and to learn.
WHES: Any parting thoughts for our readers?
Amruta: We’re always looking for new developments in the world of nutrition, so I would urge your readers to share ideas with us and we’ll do our best to explore them through Malnutrition Deeply.
WHES: Well thank you for sharing your experiences and your new website with our readers! You can learn more about Malnutrition Deeply here: https://www.newsdeeply.com/malnutrition