Nutrition indicators in agriculture projects: Current measurement, priorities, and gaps
This article (PDF) in the journal Global Food Security investigates suitable indicators for measuring nutrition-agriculture linkages. The evidence base for impact of agriculture on nutrition is bounded by what is measured. The authors argue that the understanding of true impact of agriculture on nutrition has been limited by the scope of available indicators. The paper reviews which nutrition impact indicators are currently used in agriculture-nutrition projects, and highlights priorities and gaps in measurement. Indicators used in sixty agriculture-nutrition projects were investigated. When comparing the overall conceptual framework to the indicators reported by researchers, it is clear that not all important factors are being measured in the current generation of research. Furthermore, the focus of measurement on nutritional status may be unlikely to yield useful results. The authors find that current agriculture-nutrition projects are measuring nutritional status, but are unlikely to document improvements due to inadequate statistical power and/or project scopes unlikely to produce a large impact on nutritional status. To improve the evidence base, there is a need to develop indicators of outcomes that are not being fully measured, including dietary quality and food security, women’s empowerment, health environments, and food environments. The authors conclude that agriculture-nutrition projects are measuring many important potential outcomes along program impact pathways, but that the focus needs to move away from nutritional status and toward the more proximal outcomes that such interventions can affect, such as indicators of diet and food access.