Value Chains for Nutrition framework and project design process

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To end hunger and achieve sustainable development, it is not sufficient to simply ensure that people have enough food to eat. There is a growing awareness internationally, as reflected through the UN targets for Sustainable Development Goal 2, that everyone must also have access to a diverse and nutritious diet.

Opportunities and responsibilities exist at every stage of the value chain, from producers to processors, distributors to retailers, and communities to consumers. Yet many stakeholders – including governments, community organizations, private and public sector actors, humanitarian organizations, project designers and others – still struggle to understand how to bring a nutrition lens to their work, guidance, and policy.

To support these stakeholders, CGIAR researchers in 2013 developed a framework that provides a lens to understand the links between nutrition and food value chains, the overall business environment, and the food systems in which they operate. The initiative was pioneered by the CGIAR Research Program on Nutrition and Health (A4NH), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, among other CGIAR partners.

The Value Chains for Nutrition framework provides a lens to understand the links between nutrition and food value chains, the overall business environment, and the food systems in which they operate

The innovative framework has gained traction across a number of implementing and funding agencies keen to design and implement successful nutrition-sensitive value chain projects. For example, the framework was adapted by the Working Group on Sustainable Food Value Chains for Nutrition of the Rome-based agencies of the United Nations, which brought together the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP) and Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, with contributions from IFPRI.

A4NH also supported further development and application of the framework to design nutrition-sensitive value chain (NSVC) projects, with a focus on smallholder producers. The approach, methods, and tools were field tested in Nigeria and Indonesia as part of joint work between A4NH and IFAD, funded by the German and Canadian governments, and in Malawi in collaboration by IFPRI, WFP and Save the Children through an IMMANA grant on methods and metrics. A set of practical guidelines for project design along with a research paper and policy briefs were published in 2018. Working with the Alliance, IFAD further applied this approach in Bangladesh and Honduras to design new NSVC projects.

The Working Group also partnered with the FAO eLearning Academy, with its 600,000 subscribers, to develop a multilingual massive open online course based on the guidelines, deepening the integration of gender and sustainability into the approach and anchoring value chains firmly into the notion of food systems.


Header photo: A Nigerian man sells fresh vegetables at a market in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. Photo by M. Mitchell/IFPRI.

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