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Social protection and nutrition

Evidence shows that social protection measures, such cash transfers, have a positive impact in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. In fact, social protection beneficiaries tend to increase the number of meals per day, diversify their diets, reduce negative coping mechanisms that affect nutrition and health in times of crisis, such as reducing children’s food intake, or pulling them from school to support family income generating activities.

Yet, nutrition-sensitive social protection interventions have to be embedded in a broader development plan to ensure a sustainable impact. There is a need to link up social protection programmes with wider social and economic sector interventions.

The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), identifies social protection as one of the key sectors in eradicating hunger and malnutrition and provides recommendations on the need to leverage social protection policies and programmes for a coordinated action to combat the complex nature of malnutrition

In order to strengthen the linkages of SDG1 and SDG2, FAO:

  • advocates for nutrition-sensitive social protection programmes that include specific nutrition objectives, reach the most nutritionally vulnerable, strengthen food systems and promote healthier diets through dietary diversity.
  • supports governments in strengthening capacities to design, implement and monitor nutrition-sensitive social protection.
  • is developing, together with partners a tool on food security and nutrition, which aims to support governments in assessing how social protection can be best harnessed to improve food security and nutrition outcomes at the country level and support in identifying gaps and areas for further improvement.
  • supports school food and nutrition interventions by linking school feeding to local markets and by supporting locally adapted diets to enhance food security and nutrition.