In the context of environmental uncertainty, competing funding demands, increasingly complex food systems and epidemiological transitions, meeting the challenges of malnutrition and public health calls for well-designed and implemented multi-sectoral interventions. However, planning effective agricultural policies and programs that seek to improve nutrition requires knowledge and understanding of the costs and expected benefits; evidence of which is often scarce.
Multi-sectoral interventions also involve different types of costs, incurred in diverse ways by a variety of agencies, meaning that a range of tools, methods and metrics are needed to adequately track and evaluate benefits and costs that transcend sectors. Tools do exist for measuring benefits and cost effectiveness, but which, and how many, are useful for agriculture-nutrition interventions? Just how far should we 'climb up the tree of economic evaluation?'
To help fill the evidence gap and address challenges hindering researchers' ability to compare, measure, and consistently budget for interventions, the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health (ANH) Academy's Technical Working Group on Economic Evaluations of Agriculture, Food, and Livelihood Strategies for Health and Nutrition (ANH-EEWG) has released a technical brief, titled Economic Evaluations of Multi-sectoral Actions for Health and Nutrition. The brief focuses on the challenge of measuring and comparing health improvements from programs and policies affecting agricultural production, farmers' livelihoods, and the food environment of urban and rural households.
The working group was established by ANH Academy in 2017 to bring together international experts from different disciplines to advance knowledge and scientific understanding among the global research community on economic evaluation methods and metrics related to costs and benefits of agriculture, food, and livelihood strategies for nutrition and health.
ANH Academy is a global research network in agriculture and food systems for improved nutrition and health to serve as a platform for learning and sharing. A4NH joined the London Centre on Integrative Research in Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) and the Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) program to found ANH Academy in 2015, and continues to serve as part of the coordinating team. Learn more about ANH Academy at anh-academy.org.
The Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) program ran from 2012-2018, focusing on countries with high rates of undernutrition and large agricultural sectors.
A4NH Director John McDermott reflects on lessons learned, and offers insights into future work, following release of program impact evaluation.