Nutrition-sensitive agriculture: What have we learned so far?
This paper (PDF) in de Global Food Security journal reviews recent empirical evidence (since 2014) that document linkages between agriculture, women’s empowerment, and nutrition linkages. The evidence reviewed includes findings from impact evaluations of a variety of nutrition-sensitive agriculture programs (NSAP) using experimental designs as well as observational studies. The paper summarizes existing knowledge regarding impacts, but also pathways, mechanisms, and contextual factors that affect where and how agriculture may improve nutrition outcomes. Results reveal that NSAP improves a variety of nutrition outcomes in both mothers and children, especially when these programs include nutrition and health behaviour change communication and women’s empowerment interventions. Greater impacts on child nutritional status are achieved when programs incorporate health and water, sanitation and hygiene interventions and micronutrient-fortified products. However, impacts on child stunting is still very limited. Therefore, NSAP should focus on improving access and consumption of high-quality diets for all household members rather than on reducing childhood stunting. The main recommendation concerns the fact that NSAP should take into account the specific contextual factors, including women’s empowerment, social norms and socioeconomic, environmental, political, cultural and food environment factors. Further research is needed to fill knowledge gaps, including questions of sustainability, scale-up and cost-effectiveness of NSAP.