Economic evaluations of multi-sectoral actions for health and nutrition
This brief (PDF) by the Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy focuses on the challenge of measuring and comparing health improvements from programmes and policies affecting agricultural production, farmers’ livelihoods and the food environment of urban and rural households. In the context of environmental uncertainty, competing funding demands, increasingly complex food systems and epidemiological transitions, meeting the challenges of malnutrition and public health calls for well-designed and implemented multi-sectoral interventions. However, planning effective agricultural policies and programmes that seek to improve nutrition requires knowledge and understanding of the costs and expected benefits; evidence of which is often scarce. Multi-sectoral interventions also involve different types of costs, incurred in diverse ways by a variety of agencies, meaning that a range of tools, methods and metrics are needed to adequately track and evaluate benefits and costs that transcend sectors. Tools do exist for measuring benefits and cost effectiveness, but which, and how many, are useful for agriculture-nutrition interventions? Just how far should we ‘climb up the tree of economic evaluation?’ Together, this complexity and lack of clarity inevitably hinders analysts’ ability to compare, measure and consistently budget for interventions. By creating a simplified framework and promoting best practices for estimating and reporting costs and benefits of multisectoral strategies that improved evidence and benchmarks will be available in the near future.