Assessing the Policy Impact of ‘Indicators’: A Process-Tracing Study of the Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI)
IDS Evidence Report 185
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In recent years, the global literature on reducing hunger and malnutrition has come to view progress as much an outcome of a political process as of (nutrition) technical interventions. Political commitment is now seen as an essential ingredient for bringing food and nutrition security higher up on public policy agendas.
As a consequence, a range of new indicators and scorecard tools have proliferated seeking to promote accountability and transparency of policy, legal and spending efforts and outcomes in the battle to reduce hunger and malnutrition. While a literature on indicators is emerging and underlining their governance and knowledge effects, relatively little is known about if and how indicators affect public policy. Accordingly, the policy impact of well-established annual metrics such as the Global Hunger Index, the Access to Nutrition Index or The Economist’s Global Food Security Index is often assumed but rarely explored.
This report innovatively applies a process-tracing approach to understand the policy impact of indicators and contributes to debates about assessing the impact of development research. It focuses on the case of the Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI). The HANCI project publishes annual indices of countries’ political commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition, as well as complementary knowledge products (e.g. expert surveys and community voices).