GOOD NUTRITIONAL STATUS THAT LEADS TO AN OPTIMAL quality of life is basic to sustainable development. As we progress into the new millennium, it is imperative for all of us to consider the nutritional well-being of all populations as a matter of everyday concern and practice. Hunger and malnutrition in the world have a heavy impact on the populations of all nations and on their social and economic development. However, many development efforts do not take into consideration specific
nutrition objectives. To improve the nutritional well-being of populations, and thus further the development of nations, these objectives need to be at the heart of national policies and programmes. Along with this, a human-centred approach to development must be emphasized, by upgrading the capacities of societies and creating a socio-economic environment that fosters human development.
Except in extreme circumstances, malnutrition affects specific groups of people rather than whole populations. Efforts to improve nutrition need, therefore, to concentrate on these groups. One very useful tool for focusing on the most needy or at-risk population groups is targeting. The effective targeting of
nutrition improvement programmes can dramatically reduce hunger and
malnutrition by directing efforts and resources to those most in need. At the same time, carefully designed and implemented targeting can help to ensure that precious resources are used cost-effectively.
The process of targeting can be complex, and decisions on whom to target and how to target are not always easy. Effective targeting requires many stages of decision-making during the design and implementation processes; each stage involves separate information gathering and analysis of the food and nutrition situation, the benefits to the population in terms of nutritional well-being, and the financial costs associated with programming and implementation. It is important that those involved in the various aspects of targeting have a good understanding of the basic issues and options.
While a fair amount of literature on the subject of targeting already exists, it is quite dispersed, primarily academic in nature and, therefore, not readily accessible to many of the people who are most directly involved in targeting activities. Much of the existing literature provided the background for preparation of this publication and is listed in the Bibliography for readers who are interested in consulting other sources. With this publication, the FAO Food and Nutrition Division aims to fill the need for a practical, general reference guide for all those who need to make decisions about incorporating targeting into programmes to improve nutrition. The publication provides an introduction, from the nutrition perspective, to the basic issues, considerations and methods of targeting. In so doing, it indicates the main technical, social, economic and political issues involved in various targeting schemes and focuses on targeted food and nutrition programmes. It also provides a review of the types of targeted programmes most commonly used to improve nutrition and a selection of actual examples from around the world.
The publication has been developed by the Food and Nutrition Division with the contribution of a number of people working in nutrition around the world. Within FAO, Valeria Menza, Nutrition Officer in the Food and Nutrition Division, was responsible for undertaking this publication. From the nutrition community outside FAO, the Division gratefully acknowledges the contributions made by Mr Maarten Immink, Mr Samir Miladi, Ms Mahshid Ahrari, Dr Juliana Kain, Dr Ricardo Uauy and Professor Ruth Oniang'o, who generously shared their expertise and experience. Too numerous to mention individually are the workshop participants from ten countries in the Near East region who reviewed an early draft of the publication. We would like to express our appreciation and thanks for these contributions.
It is hoped that this publication will be a welcome addition to existing reference materials on the topic and that it will both encourage and facilitate the design and implementation of effective programmes to improve nutrition.
Director, Food and Nutrition Division