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Photo of a young man from Zimbabwe milking a cow, with a smile on his face.
Photo Credit: USAID Zimbabwe

USAID works with partners to provide lifesaving food assistance to the most vulnerable around the world and reduce hunger and malnutrition so that people have adequate, safe and nutritious food. USAID Advancing Nutrition supports the Agency in integrating a greater focus on nutrition in the food assistance modalities supported in both emergency and non-emergency contexts. This has involved developing tools and resources, operations research, and providing technical assistance to both USAID and its emergency and non-emergency implementing partners.

Resilience and Food Security Activity Collaboration

The project collaborated with Resilience and Food Security Activity (RFSA) programs in Mali, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Bangladesh during the refinement and implementation phases of RFSA start-up and end-of-project sustainability. We reviewed program theories of change, identified essential information gaps, and advised implementing partners on their scopes of work for refinement-year studies. In addition, we reviewed refinement-year research findings and identified program implementation modifications, continued learning plans, and opportunities to build partners’ capacity to implement their programs by the end of the refinement and implementation phases. We also identified priority health and nutrition outcomes and interventions to sustain beyond the completion of the activities; identified lessons on how to sustain each outcome (including successes and mitigating challenges); and discussed sustainability resources, knowledge, skills, and support.

Food Assistance Modality Decision Tool

There is no singular “right” way to provide food assistance. Interventions depend on the drivers of food insecurity, how markets are functioning, security conditions, and overall program goals. Cost, local dietary preferences, and timeliness are also important considerations when designing a context-specific, appropriate, and effective response to food insecurity. We have developed these tools for emergency implementing partners to support decisions around food assistance with a greater focus on nutrition.

Strengthening Lipid-based Nutrient Supplement (LNS) Programming

USAID Advancing Nutrition supports USAID’s International Food Relief Partnership to improve the design and implementation of lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) programs. Strong evidence shows that preventive small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS-SQ) improves survival, growth, and development of children 6–24 months of age. Studies show that medium-quantity LNS (LNS-MQ) is as effective as LNS-SQ for children. A small but growing number of studies suggest that LNS-SQ supplementation of women during pregnancy has a slightly more positive effect on birth outcomes than iron and folic acid.

Despite the evidence for effectiveness, few organizations implement LNS-SQ programs. As a result, the nutrition community knows very little about the challenges and opportunities of expanding the use of this product and the best approaches to do so. LNS-SQ implementing partner programs, funded by the International Food Relief Partnership, present a unique opportunity to learn from diverse experiences.

In 2020, USAID Advancing Nutrition conducted a remote mapping exercise of 18  International Food Relief Partnership,  -funded LNS-SQ and LNS-MQ partners to compare program details and identify gaps and opportunities for capacity strengthening. In 2021 and 2022, we built on this work by conducting a learning activity with three implementing partners programming LNS-SQ for children in Honduras, Niger, and Somalia, and pregnant and lactating women in Honduras and Somalia.