International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

Nutrition-Smart Villages – Revitalised food-systems for nutrition-security in marginal areas

Food security

A network of 275 Nutrition-Smart Villages (NSV) in 10 marginal areas, with thriving food -systems and inclusive access to nutritious food for 7m poor people

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Lead Organization

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal

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Project Summary

An unacceptable level of chronic hunger and malnutrition affects more than 1.3bn people globally. Over 821m people are undernourished; 90% of them live in Asia and Africa. 149m children are stunted, wasting the potential of children, and limiting growth and development. 275 self-managing Nutrition-Smart Villages (NSV) will be established in 10 food-insecurity ‘hotspots’ in East and Southern Africa and the Hindu Kush Himalaya region in Asia, ending food and nutrition-insecurity for 1m (direct) and up to 6m people (indirect) in a durable, scalable manner.The ‘NSV’ solution will empower 1m people (children, women and excluded groups) in 275 NSVs to manage local production and supply of diverse nutritious foods, with additional income from food-based value chains. Transformed dietary behavior in homes and schools will sustain demand. Village-led tracking mechanisms will trigger multi-sectoral response and accountability. Connecting NSVs within and across Africa and Asia will drive cross-learning, wider uptake and replicability.

Problem Statement

Few global challenges match the scale and persistence of food insecurity and malnutrition: 1.3bn are food insecure; 821m people are undernourished, with 90% in Asia and Africa. 8 out of 10 anaemic women between 15-49 years are in Asia and Africa; 9 out of 10 stunted children live in Asia and Africa. Poor nutrition locks children into a lifetime of irreversible health and social challenges, limiting economic growth and wellbeing of whole communities and nations. This solution targets 2 marginal environments (arid and mountainous) where challenging terrains, remoteness and poor infrastructure aggravate deteriorating local food systems, high levels of poverty and malnutrition. Food insecurity and malnutrition are highly complex and multi-faceted problems, particularly in these environments. This ‘wicked’ challenge to resolve is driven by many factors: economic – poverty and income inequality, and market fluctuations; environmental – land degradation, loss of agro-diversity, increased climate variability, and extreme weather events such as drought and flash floods; social – urbanisation, migration, exclusion (gender, age, disability, etc), conflict; behaviour – changing dietary habits towards more processed foods; political – low will to prioritise nutrition policies, inefficient and disjointed support services, low investment in research and development. We know from experience across the AIRCA network that a combination of ‘systemic interventions’ designed to shift underlying causes of chronic hunger and malnutrition will work. Critical leverage points in the NSV design include; whole village behaviour and mindset change; revitalised food-system emphasising indigenous species; stimulation of local market and enterprises; safety-net initiatives and a service response

Solution Overview

The NSV solution will impact up to 7m people at risk of chronic hunger and malnutrition. Of these, 1m children, women and men and excluded groups will be impacted directly as inhabitants of the 275 NSVs in 10 marginal areas. Through a carefully planned scale-out process and with each NSV acting as a learning hub we expect uptake to reach 7m people. The NSV concept combines 4 interlocking, iterative components to provide this durable and scalable solution within the 5-year grant period.1. Revitalize local food systems, making them climate resilient, bringing back neglected and underutilized species (NUS), developing food banks, seed banks and food-based value chains, and intensive capacitation of extension services and farmers. 2. Transform nutrition behavior across schools, families and villages using proven Behavior Change Communication (BCC) methods and self-tracking (score card) to stimulate ownership and leadership. 3. Establish a multi-sectoral response system, triggered by community-led demand. This will be co-established, to respond to needs highlighted in Village Score Cards. The response mechanism will also serve as a conduit to shape national level policy. 4. Connect villages to learn from each other, forming a network that is open to including others, generating evidence for policy making and scaling. Capacity strengthening, knowledge generation, and institutional development, will be integrated across all components. Disability gender social inclusion will be addressed with targeted context specific actions. Progress will be continuously measured through score cards, surveys, cohort studies and significant change stories, measuring verifiable outcome indicators and contributing to ‘before-and-after’ documentation

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