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Preparing a field for planting
Women prepare a field for planting.

USAID Advancing Nutrition worked with partners to better understand where evidence gaps exist for effective nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions and practices in emergency response and recovery programming (6-18 months duration), particularly in complex and protracted emergency contexts. We worked with the Emergency Response to Food Insecurity for Lake Chad Basin Activity, implemented by Premiere Urgence International, targeting crisis-affected populations in the Far North Region of Cameroon, and the Emergency Livelihood Response Programme in South Sudan, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization, to explore how agriculture activities in these complex emergency contexts contribute to nutrition outcomes by–

  • gathering and analyzing the latest evidence and experience
  • identifying key factors for nutrition-sensitive agriculture emergency activity design and intervention selection
  • analyzing the effectiveness of selected interventions through operations research.

Study Objectives

Our study focused on factors influencing targeted populations to produce, market, purchase, and consume locally grown foods (in particular vegetables and cereals) in an effort to capture dietary diversity among children and women of reproductive age. Influential factors included humanitarian interventions, agricultural inputs and household assets, agriculture production and nutrition-related training, household demographic circumstances, and social care environment factors (e.g., shocks, stressors, mental health, social support networks).

Improved Dietary Diversity through Consumption and Income Generation

We found that agricultural interventions have the potential to improve dietary diversity for women as a part of nutrition-sensitive programming in food-insecure, protracted humanitarian crisis contexts. Agricultural interventions can increase dietary diversity through production for consumption and income-generation pathways. However, support for complementary feeding should be considered as an intervention to increase the percent of children meeting MDD. Several household and external factors were associated with dietary diversity but they varied for women and children, and by context.

Food Insecurity and Dietary Diversity 

We did not find household food insecurity status in either country to be associated with dietary diversity for women or children. These findings suggest that intentionally designing nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions in protracted emergencies may improve diet diversity for women and children who are able to make use of these resources. This is one approach in a toolkit of nutrition-sensitive programming that should not be overlooked but rather layered into other cash and voucher assistance and market-oriented programming. Complex emergencies have the potential to improve dietary diversity, particularly of women and children. Incorporating nutrition-sensitive agriculture will likely bolster dietary diversity outcomes.

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