Monday, April 4, 2011

USAID's review of food security and nutrition effects of agricultural development projects

This is a report from USAID's Infant and Young Child Nutrition program. It reviews case studies of many different development project, and analyzes what types of projects are most likely to improve food security in general, and specifically child nutrition. They've also published a shorter fact sheet summarizing their findings. Here is what the report found to ensure positive food security effects of projects:

"1. These effects are often unclear at the outset and require explicit modeling and/or
measurement. Such measurement is most useful if it assesses the effects of the intervention
on the food security of population groups found to be food insecure at the outset of the
project. (Further improving the food security levels of households already relatively food
secure should be given lower priority.)
2. Increasing employment of unemployed and under-employed population groups is likely to
translate into reduced food insecurity.
3. The effects on food security of agricultural policies or interventions that affect food prices
are likely to depend on whether rural households are net sellers or net purchasers of those
food commodities.
4. The effect on food security of cash crop production is likely to depend on whether the land
and labor utilized are in surplus and on the extent of variability in the supply prices of basic
food crops.
5. The effect of agricultural interventions on food security is likely to be more positive if the
interventions focus on those agricultural tasks normally undertaken by women, if they
increase intercropping, increase small-scale agricultural processing, and increase the
production of food disproportionately consumed by food-insecure households.
6. Agricultural interventions that displace labor through large-scale mechanization are more
likely to have negative food security effects."

And here is what they found in terms of child malnutrition effects:

"The review suggests that positive and significant nutrition impacts are most likely to occur from
agricultural interventions when (1) household members regularly consume the food commodity
being produced, (2) the intervention includes explicit nutrition counseling, (3) the intervention
includes home gardens, and/or (4) the project introduces micronutrient-rich plant varieties."

These insights will come in handy with a few projects I'm about to start working on.

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