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 > Food > Nutrition improvement programmes
  • Children attending a school for pastoralist communities eating lunch©FAO/Ami Vitale/FAO
  • A woman farmer and beneficiary of an FAO/EU project harvesting beans©FAO/Ishara Kodikara
  • Red chilli peppers for sale at the Luwowoshi Market©FAO/Olivier Asselin / FAO

Nutrition improvement programmes

Malnutrition and undernutrition can be drastically reduced through food-based nutrition improvement programmes. Nutrition improvement interventions work to address both the immediate causes of malnutrition as well as their underlying factors.

Targeting for nutrition improvement

Except in extreme circumstance, malnutrition affects specific population groups rather than whole populations. Targeting is a useful methodological tool to ensure nutrition improvement programmes efficiently and effectively direct efforts and resources to those most at risk. Complementary feeding , food fortification, suplementation, school feeding, breastfeeding promotion and nutrition education and consumer awareness programmes are examples of targeted programmes most commonly used to improve nutrition.

Focus on communities

There is an increasing recognition of the need to engage target communities in nutrition improvement programmes planning and implementation. Top-down programme formulation can often leads to “quick fix” welfare interventions which do not address the basic causes of food and nutrition insecurity.  Successful nutrition improvement programmes involve community-based strategies with a participatory approaches to foster programme ownership and sustainability.

The key role of assessment

The purpose of assessing nutrition improvement programmes is to understand what works, what does not work, why and how such programmes can be strengthened and, where appropriate, redesigned. FAO has been developing a comprehensive assessment tool, based on lessons learnt from case studies, which allows countries to undertake in-depth analysis of their own community based food and nutrition programmes.