KORE - Knowledge sharing platform on Emergencies and Resilience

Nutrition-sensitive voucher schemes in South Sudan

Improving diets while promoting the diversification of livelihoods and nutrition education in a protracted crisis

Over 75 percent of the population in rural and peri-urban areas in South Sudan rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. With the outbreak of conflict starting at the end of 2013, the country has seen large-scale displacement, loss of livelihoods and an economic crisis that resulted in widespread food insecurity and malnutrition. This has been further exacerbated by severe drought, low coverage of essential services, livestock diseases, inadequate hygiene and poor infant and young child feeding practices. The upsurge in violence since July 2016 further devastated crop production, including in previously stable areas. In 2017 over 1.1 million children were estimated to be acutely malnourished across South Sudan.

To respond to the food security and nutrition crisis, between February 2017 and December 2018, FAO promoted a nutrition-sensitive approach with two aims. Firstly, to increase production and consumption along the food value chain, and secondly, to facilitate access to nutritious food to vulnerable groups. This promising practice fact sheet explores the use of nutrition-sensitive vouchers as response modalities in projects funded by the World Bank and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Further bolstering the nutrition-sensitive voucher scheme was the Governments of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Norway’s contribution to FAO’s Emergency Livelihood Response Programme (ELRP).

A voucher scheme provides farmers with access to goods (e.g. agricultural inputs, food items) and/or services. Beneficiaries are provided with a voucher, paper or electronic card of a set value, that they can exchange for goods at existing shops (i.e. retailers/suppliers). The shops must be registered for the duration of the scheme, usually several weeks or several months.


  • On gender: Selected beneficiaries were food-insecure urban and peri-urban households, including female-headed households, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, households with malnourished children of less than five years of age, the elderly, widows and youth. The intervention showed that providing women with nutrition vouchers can enable them to have greater control over resources and increase their bargaining power.
  • On nutrition: The experience showed that nutrition information and education can be used to promote practices preventing malnutrition and enhancing maternal, infant, and young child nutrition. Nutrition outcomes can be further improved and women’s work burden possibly reduced by delivering training sessions on making and operating energy-saving cooking stoves, hay baskets and solar driers for vegetable preservation by using locally available materials and on cooking locally available foods. Nutrition vouchers facilitated access to nutritious food in a context of emergency and beneficiaries participated in nutrition education sessions.
  • On vouchers: The nutrition-sensitive voucher approach used in South Sudan provided both short-term and medium-term benefits. On the one hand, they supported beneficiaries with immediate access to nutritious foods for healthy diets. The milk, fish, meat and vegetables beneficiaries could purchase with the vouchers helped families enhance their diet, which is mainly a cereal-based one. On the other hand, a pre-condition to receiving these vouchers was to partake in technical skills training and nutrition education sessions, which were complemented by the provision of agricultural inputs as well as food storage and handling equipment.
  • On the HDP nexus: FAO’s nutrition-sensitive voucher scheme approach in South Sudan showed to contribute to providing both short-term and medium-term benefits. The combination of short-term crisis management and medium-term livelihood support exemplifies a nutrition-sensitive and resilience-building intervention that operationalizes the humanitarian—development—peace nexus. These short- and medium-term components sought to increase long-term sustainability by developing local agricultural capacities, streamlining nutrition practices at the community level, and providing complementary agricultural inputs and basic nutrition-sensitive technologies that can be used even beyond the project period.
No comments

Please join or sign in the KORE community