The World Food Programme (WFP) recognizes that nutrition interventions that address the direct causes of undernutrition – inadequate dietary intake and disease – are necessary but not sufficient to tackle the problem of malnutrition. Long-lasting change will also require the integration of a nutrition focus into many other areas of work in order to address the underlying causes.
Agriculture, health, education and social protection programmes, for example, may not have nutrition as their primary objective, but have the potential to impact nutritional outcomes if nutrition is considered in the programme design. These nutrition-sensitive programmes can address the underlying factors that contribute to malnutrition, such as food insecurity, gender inequality, poor knowledge on feeding and health care, and limited access to safe water and health services.
These programmes can also provide a platform for delivering direct nutrition interventions, for example, by including nutrient-dense foods in social safety net programmes or adding micronutrient powder to meals provided in early child development initiatives.
WFP aims to improve the nutrition focus of all its relevant programs such as School Meals, Food Assistance for Assets, Purchase for Progress, smallholder support and general food distribution. Working together with governments and partners, we play a proactive role in helping integrate a nutrition lens into national policies, strategies and programmes by providing technical advice and supporting multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder platforms like the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement.
Examples of how WFP is integrating nutrition into other activities:
• In Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, our Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme is collaborating with HarvestPlus and national governments to cultivate micronutrient-rich staple foods. P4P-supported small-scale farmers have begun to grow Iron Beans, Vitamin A Maize and Vitamin A Sweet Potato, promoting both improved nutrition for communities and higher revenue for farmers selling their produce.
• WFP’s school meals provide a safety net for protecting food security and improving school enrolment and attendance, however, they can also provide a way to address the nutritional needs of school-aged children, for example, by incorporating micronutrient supplements to enhance the nutritional value of the meals. In many countries, like Central African Republic, WFP also partners with the government, WHO and UNICEF to carry out deworming campaigns in schools, an intervention that ensures nutritional gains from meals are not compromised by intestinal worms.
• In Malawi, WFP is integrating nutrition into its resilience-building activities. This includes helping communities identify the drivers of malnutrition through their community-based participatory planning (CBPP) processes, and aiming to mitigate these through community-created assets – such as gardens, fruit trees, and improved sanitation and hygiene facilities as part of Food Assistance for Assets programmes.
• In Guatemala, WFP has launched a project linking P4P with the SUN movement. The initiative Maíz Chapín contra el hambre (Maize Alliance Against Hunger) aims to improve nutrition and increase farmers’ income by using their surplus to produce supplementary foods for at-risk populations.