Effective public investments to improve food security
This policy brief (PDF) by IISD identifies the most effective and efficient ways to invest in improving food security. The world has made significant progress in reducing hunger over the past decade, but it remains a major challenge. In general, public investment has a positive impact on food security. However, a key message is that context matters. Where interventions had no or negative impacts on food security, the reason for failure was often the lack of consideration of broader community challenges, gender inequality and wealth inequality. Whereas successful interventions stressed the importance of prior analysis or a baseline assessment. Improved food security is often the result of multiple, well-designed interventions. The focus is less about finding the right interventions, and more about ensuring that interventions are designed and implemented with the particular context in mind. The most robust evidence comes from research on the effectiveness of input subsidies, value chain development and extension services. An important research gap exists regarding evidence on the efficiency of interventions relative to their costs. The article comes with four recommendations that can help future planning for public investment in food security: 1) Include direct food security indicators into the design, testing, implementation and evaluation of the interventions to enable better tracking of food security; 2) Conduct rigorous baseline assessments to understand the local context and uncover specific conditions that could have a significant impact on the success or failure of the planned interventions; 3) Improve the methodological approaches for evaluating impacts of interventions to ensure effective communication of lessons learned to enable continuous improvement; 4) Evaluations should include cost-benefit comparisons of interventions or other methods to assess efficiency.