Nutrition

Undernutrition is responsible for nearly half of all deaths in children under five globally – and at least two Billion people suffer from at least one form of malnutrition, including overweight and obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. IDS and partners use multidisciplinary approaches in research, policy and action to understand nutritional inequalities at the overlap of food and health systems. 

Women in Chad with palm oil

IDS brings a critical development perspective to the heart of debates on nutrition

Beyond the tragic loss of life, malnutrition also has hugely detrimental social and economic effects throughout people’s lives; traps people in poverty and transmits it to their children. These deaths and damage result from poor political, policy and programmatic choices and are entirely preventable. IDS takes a critical development perspective to shape and strengthen the response to these challenges.

Thinking about nutrition in relation to wider development challenges

Improving nutrition cannot happen in isolation from efforts to address other development challenges. IDS’ research on nutrition includes work on sensitising livelihoods development, social protection, systems of gender and care, water, sanitation and hygiene and agriculture and food security to the importance of nutrition. 

IDS is part of the partnership Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia, which aims to improve nutrition through understanding of how agriculture and agri-food systems can be better designed. In Bangladesh, IDS led an evaluation of a DFID programme that aims to improve nutrition outcomes by integrating the delivery of community nutrition support with livelihoods and social protection. 

Putting accountable politics at the heart of improving nutrition

Engaging with politics and placing those accountable for decisions at all levels is fundamental to pushing nutrition up the political agenda. IDS focuses on the politics and governance of nutrition by exploring policy processes and commitment towards tackling malnutrition and by developing new forms of community and political engagement via a range of innovative methods.

IDS produces the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index, which ranks governments and donors on their political commitment to tackling hunger and undernutrition. IDS is also part of the Transform Nutrition Consortium, which works to stimulate more effective action to improve nutrition via research on nutrition programming and policy; including via community accountability. 

Combining different approaches to strengthen our understanding of malnutrition

IDS’ nutrition work is underscored by a growing list of major, multi-methods evaluations. Using, developing and teaching innovative and multiple methods to conduct research is vital to our approach and understanding. 

Through leading on evidence mobilisation embedded within an impact evaluation in Nigeria, IDS highlighted many to barriers to women and children in improving nutrition. IDS is also co-leading a mixed methods evaluation to estimate the impact of DFID’s mNutrition programme. 

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Photo of Annie Lowden More details

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Jean Pierre Tranchant is a Research Fellow with the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team More details

Jessica Meeker is the Nutrition Convenor, Knowledge Services More details

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Photo of Karine Gatellier, Health Convenor in IDS Knowledge Services More details

Photo of Leah Plati, Administrator, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team More details

Photo of Nick Nisbett, IDS Research Fellow in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team More details

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Accelerating Progress in Reducing Hunger and Undernutrition

This programme will focus on how agriculture can deliver better nutrition outcomes by developing evidence-based policy options and tools for businesses, governments, NGOs and donors. More details

African Farmer Game

African Farmer is a free, open source game that simulates the complex decisions and uncertainties faced by small-scale farmers living in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA)

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a five-year, DFID-funded, research programme consortium which aims to produce new evidence and policy insights into different pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa and their differential outcomes for local people and economies. More details

AgriDiet

AgriDiet is an Irish Aid funded research programme consortium, led by University College Cork in Ireland. The overall goal of the programme is to contribute to poverty reduction through the identification of policies and interventions that can make a positive impact on the nutritional status of vulnerable rural households. More details

AllAfrica and IDS development reporting initiative

IDS and AllAfrica have teamed up to produce and distribute compelling multi-media content on critical issues for Africa’s future, as part of a development reporting initiative. More details

Analysis of Maharashtra’s Decline in Childhood Stunting

UNICEF and IDS are collaborating to undertake an in-depth analysis of the factors that may have led to the 16% decline in child stunting in Maharashtra evidenced in surveys covering the period 2006-2012. More details

Assessing the Impact of Conflict and the Effects of WFP Humanitarian Interventions on Moderate Acute Malnutrition and Other Developmental Outcomes in Mali

This project is a multidisciplinary research partnership involving IFPRI, PCD, IDS and WFP which builds on a unique pre-crises baseline conducted in early 2012 to provide rigorous evidence for policymakers on the effects of humanitarian interventions by WFP on child malnutrition in in Mali. More details

CIFF - Nutrition Advocacy Consortium

In partnership with Results for Development and Results ACTION Partnership, the Institute of Development Studies is part of a consortium that aims to build accountability, strengthen policy and foster leadership in nutrition. More details

Ethics in the Nutrition Policy Process

The issue of power in food and nutrition governance is under-explored. This research looks at the power of international actors and the (lack of) participation of those experiencing malnutrition in the setting of nutrition policy, as ethical issues. More details

External evaluation of mobile phone technology based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Africa and South Asia (mNutrition)

mNutrition is a global initiative supported by DFID, organised by GSMA, and implemented by in-country Mobile Network Operators to use mobile technology to raise the health and nutritional status of children and adults in the developing world. More details

GODAN Action - Enabling practical engagement with open data in agriculture and nutrition

GODAN Action brings together agriculture and nutrition specialists and open data experts and will support GODAN in its mission by building people’s capacity to engage with open data More details

HEART (Health and Education Advice and Resource Team)

HEART is a consortium of leading organisations in international development, health, nutrition, education, social protection and WASH. More details

Home Grown School Feeding Mali

This study aims to evaluate the impact of school feeding programmes sourced from small-holder farmers on small-holder food security, as well as on school children's education, health and nutrition in Mali. More details

Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index - HANCI

HANCI measures and ranks governments’ political commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition on an annual basis. More details

Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa (ISSD-Africa)

The goal of ISSD Africa Programme is to support the development of a market-oriented, pluralistic, vibrant and dynamic seed sector in Africa for providing both female and male smallholder farmers access to quality seed of superior varieties. More details

International and National Responses to Hunger Guided by Better Quality Metrics

The project aims to assess when, where, how amd why mobile phone technology might enable more effective and credible real-time monitoring of nutrition More details

Knowledge Exhange Forum for Nutrition Curricula Development and Adoption in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania

IDS are working to design, develop and maintain an online knowledge exchange forum to facilitate consultation during development of training packages, to increase the nutrition capacity of frontline workers in East Africa. More details

Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility

Researching the impacts of, and responses to, volatile food prices in poor communities in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Vietnam and Zambia. More details

Malnutrition and Poverty Traps in OIC Countries: Evidence and Policy Responses

This projects aims to study the links between malnutrition and poverty and between maternal and child malnutrition in OIC countries. More details

Maximising the Quality of Scaling Up Nutrition Programmes Framework (MQSUN)

MQSUN aims to provide DFID with technical services to improve the quality of nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive programmes. Services will be provided on a call down basis to DFID country offices over a period of four years. More details

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View all Research Theme's publications

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ER174_FrontCover

Business and its Role in Improving Nutrition: Opportunities, Challenges and Solutions for Nigeria. Case Studies and Key Messages from the Workshop

IDS Evidence Report 174 (2016)

This workshop report presents the findings from a workshop held by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in partnership with the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network in Abuja, Nigeria, 14 October 2015. More details

ER172_FrontCover

Addressing Market Constraints to Providing Nutrient-Rich Foods: An Exploration of Market Systems Approaches

IDS Evidence Report 172 (2016)

This Report asks how a market systems approach could be applied to improve poor households’ access to nutrient-dense foods. By ‘market systems approach’ we mean methods that identify and address underlying constraints in market transactions, their supporting functions and the institutional environment in which markets operate, and which are preventing markets from delivering desired outcomes. More details

ER171_FrontCover

Improving the Nutritional Quality of Food Markets through the Informal Sector: Lessons from Case Studies in Other Sectors

IDS Evidence Report 171 (2016)

Policymakers in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are seeking to work with food markets and food businesses as part of efforts to reduce undernutrition. These market-based approaches include national fortification programmes, public food distribution systems, new product development and the promotion of biofortified crops. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Ethiopia: Year 3 Findings from the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility Study

With regards to processed foods and food perceived to be unsafe, we found that fast food consumption has significantly increased in the last few years. It is supplied at low prices and many find it affordable, easily accessible and some consider it to be nutritious. However, some have expressed their concern over hygiene while others fear that it would expose many families to economic problem because husbands and children are progressively eating outside and do not bring money home. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Exclusive Breastfeeding and Early Initiation: Target Groups and Influential Messages

ORIE Research Summary 12 (2016)

This briefing outlines the findings from operations research on exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) and early initiation. The study supports refinement of the infant and young child feeding (IYCF) strategy implemented by the Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Promoting Women’s Attendance at ANC: Target Groups and Motivating Messages

ORIE Research Summary 11 (2016)

This report outlines the main findings of ORIE operations research on promoting women’s use of antenatal care (ANC) services. The study supports refinement of the advocacy strategy for this, implemented by the Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Assessing the Effectiveness of Agri-Food Value Chain Interventions Aimed at Enhancing Consumption of Nutritious Food by the Poor: Conceptual Framework

LANSA Working Paper Series 2015.04 (2015)

South Asia has experienced rapid economic growth, yet it still has the highest rate of child malnutrition in the world, and half the population is undernourished. This paper lays out a conceptual framework to guide the analysis of value chain-based interventions aimed at enhancing the intake of micronutrient-dense foods in South Asia under the LANSA research programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Team of researchers from Bayero University Kano receives grant to compare the feeding practices of mothers of stunted and non-stunted children in Northern Nigeria

In March 2015, a team in the Department of Community Medicine of Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, led by Professor Zubairu Iliyasu, received a research grant for a new research project to compare the feeding practices of mothers with stunted and non-stunted children. The grant was awarded by ORIE, a DFID-funded consortium of UK and Nigerian organisations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Researchers from Ahmadu Bello University receive grant for research on long-term outcomes of Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme

In April 2015, the Department of Community Medicine of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria, received the first tranche of monies for a new research project to study long-term outcomes following treatment in a Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme in Katsina State. The grant was awarded by ORIE (Operations Research and Impact Evaluation), a DFID-funded consortium of UK and Nigerian organisations, More details

IDS publications on international development research

From promises to progress: assessing Nigeria's nutrition commitments

A report card on governance and community contexts for nutrition interventions, highlighting next steps in tackling child malnutrition. More details

ER161_FrontCover

Markets for Nutrient-rich Foods: Policy Synthesis from Three Country Studies

IDS Evidence Report 161 (2015)

This Evidence Report examines the potential for and limitations of promoting business and market-based approaches to reducing undernutrition through increasing the availability and accessibility of nutrient-rich foods for the undernourished. More details

This is the front cover to the report, 'Delicious, Disgusting, Dangerous: Eating in a Time of Food Price Volatility'.

Delicious, Disgusting, Dangerous: Eating in a Time of Food Price Volatility (summary)

Report (2015)

This is a Summary of the third year results of the study Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility, which uncover the realities of what people on low and precarious incomes are eating. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Kenya: Year 3 Findings from the Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility Study in Mukuru And Lango Baya, Kenya

In particular, we were interested in a) the incentives for the consumption of processed foods, b) the worries attached to their consumption and c) the structures in place to address some of these concerns. More details

This is the cover to 'Employing Evidence in Policy Advocacy to Mobilise Parliamentarians on Nutrition in Tanzania: Some Lessons from the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI)'.

Employing Evidence in Policy Advocacy to Mobilise Parliamentarians on Nutrition in Tanzania: Some Lessons from the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI)

HANCI Case Study (2015)

This case study shares experiences from a collaboration between Partnership for Action on Nutrition in Tanzania (PANITA) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS, UK), using HANCI evidence to support policy advocacy with the Tanzanian Parliamentary Group for Nutrition, Food Security and Child Rights (PG-NFSCR). More details

IDS publications on international development research

How to strengthen a Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition programme in northern Nigeria

ORIE Research Summary 9 (2015)

This summary highlights findings and recommendations from operation research on a Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme in northern Nigeria. The study analysed the perceived benefits of CMAM; reasons for beneficiaries not defaulting from the programme; challenges of accessing CMAM services; the workloads and motivation of health workers and community volunteers; and wh More details

ER150_FrontCover

The Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI 2014): Measuring the Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition in Developing Countries

IDS Evidence Report 150 (2015)

This report presents the Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI) 2014. More details

ER149_FrontCover

Edible Insects and the Future of Food: A Foresight Scenario Exercise on Entomophagy and Global Food Security

IDS Evidence Report 149 (2015)

This document reports on the findings of a small project in which we used the tools of Foresight to think about the potential of edible insects to contribute to global food security in a future global food system. More details

IDS publications on international development research

ORIE Nigeria Gender Synthesis Report: Gender-related findings across ORIE studies (Year Three)

Gender inequality and child mortality, morbidity and malnutrition are inextricably linked. Data collected in ORIE’s research and evaluation studies throw light on the links between the low status and autonomy of women, low uptake of nutrition services, and poor child health outcomes, in four states of Northern Nigeria. More details

Strengthening_Evidence_Based_Policy_2015

Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs April 2014 – March 2015

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2015)

In much writing about development, policy and practice are portrayed as if they are joined at the hip. Policy shapes practice, while learning from practice informs policy processes. In this portrayal, practice is usually understood to refer to development practice, or how development programmes and projects are implemented. More details

PB97_FrontCover

Working with Business Towards Systemic Change in Markets

IDS Policy Briefing 97 (2015)

Donors, governments, civil society and companies are making significant investments in creating or supporting new business models with the aim of contributing to international development goals. More details

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