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Food Security & Nutrition

For more than 30 years, ICF has helped governments and development partners understand the critical links between food security, nutrition, women’s empowerment, globalization, migration, and climate change. We help them to pinpoint the underlying causes of food insecurity and to deliver innovative programs that address world hunger; to ensure that strong evidence informs the design and , implementation food security programs; and build capacity to scale targeted, effective programs across multiple countries and contexts.

Our clients have included the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United National Office of Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Applying Subject Matter Expertise and Generating Evidence

Whether gauging the effectiveness of an agricultural development program in Asia or evaluating nutrition, agricultural production, health, and household expenditures in Africa or the Caribbean, ICF delivers the benefit of technical acumen across multiple domains that impact or are impacted by food security:

  • Nutrition
  • Maternal and child health
  • Agricultural markets and value chains
  • Livelihoods
  • Women’s empowerment
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation
  • Poverty
  • Resilience

Our services cover population-based, targeted beneficiary studies, sample design, data collection, qualitative and quantitative analysis, benchmarking, evaluation, and analysis for decision making.

Feed the Future

Through research and evaluation we examine trends across the food security nexus in the developing world. Through our portfolio of food security studies we have:

  • Contributed to stakeholders’ in-depth understanding of national populations and context, built rich data archives, and developed proven sampling methodologies and innovative delivery models.
  • Conducted data collection and analysis that result in timely, efficient, consistent service delivery across geographic areas and projects.
  • Built in-country capacity through training, development, and evaluation of survey instruments.

Our quantitative and qualitative analyses for the USAID Office of Food for Peace enable the comparison of data across countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

ICF conducts baseline and endline studies for USAID’s Food for Peace (FFP) Title II Programs to investigate household food access, children’s nutritional status and feeding practices, women’s nutritional status and dietary diversity, sanitation and hygiene, agricultural practices, and household resilience, expenditures, and assets. ICF produces actionable outputs that will allow Food for Peace and its partners to improve and strengthen their programs.

ICF has carried out these studies in Bangladesh, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Each study includes a representative population-based household survey to collect data for key FFP and project-specific indicators as well as a qualitative study to gather data to add context, richness, and depth to understanding and utilizing the results from the household survey.

Global Nutrition

Although parts of the developing world have experienced incredible economic growth during the past 20 years, more than 800 million people worldwide still suffer from chronic malnutrition. To address world hunger, donor agencies and national governments are employing innovative programs that build resilient communities by focusing on the underlying causes of food insecurity. These programs require sound evidence and complex understanding of local communities and global trends.

ICF has served as the prime contractor for the Demographic and Health Surveys Program (DHS) since 1984, conducting more than 300 large-scale, nationally representative surveys in more than 90 developing countries. DHS data are used for evidence-based decision making by governments and organizations throughout the world. For example, nutrition data allow for an analysis of nutritional status (stunting, wasting, and underweight) for children and their mothers; micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A and anemia); and fortification of salt (iodized salt). DHS data and survey publications are available for free through the DHS website.

Food Security and Vulnerability

For the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), ICF conducted a food security and vulnerability mapping assessment to gather evidence and intelligence on the appropriateness and pertinence of policy and programs targeting responses to the rising price of foodstuff and its negative impact on vulnerable populations of the MENA region.

ICF conducted impact evaluations of five International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-supported projects (located in Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Colombia, and Nicaragua). The specific focus was on measuring: 1) economic mobility, 2) economic resilience and adaptive capacity, and 3) women’s empowerment. IFAD’s overall goal under this grant was to increase the use of evidence in policy making and to understand what works-- where, why, and under what conditions--in rural poverty reduction by improving the evaluation capacity of projects to generate strong evidence of project outcomes and impact.

ICF provided technical assistance to the United Nations Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Secretariat in the development, implementation, and tracking of resources for national nutrition plans. ICF assisted SUN countries in setting up systems to cost national plans, tracking resources utilized, and identifying funding gaps. ICF staff participated as expert panelists in global and regional workshops to help countries cost and track nutrition investments and identify unmet funding needs.

The Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) is a multi-donor fund that aims to address food insecurity and income poverty in Myanmar. ICF was funded by United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to conduct a mid-term study, including household surveys, of LIFT’s agricultural program in three agricultural zones in Myanmar. The results enabled LIFT to compare conditions in the agro-ecological zones and the aggregate outcomes from the activities of all implementing partners.