Improving nutrition programmes

[An assessment tool for action]

This Assessment Tool (AT) represents a milestone in the continuous involvement and experience of FAO in assisting Member Countries in developing community-based food and .nutrition programmes. There is an increasing recognition of the need to engage target communities in the process of nutrition programme planning and implementation. FAO believes that it is important to strengthen these programmes on the understanding that nutritional status is the most important outcome indicator to measure progress against poverty and undernutrition. In this context, FAD started the process that has led to the development of this AT with the preparation of a methodological framework to guide the review and analysis of existing programmes as in-depth case studies. Nine case studies were selected and the reporting process defined at a technical consultation held in Rome in October 2001. The field work was carried out and subsequently analysed to prepare an integrated report. The methodology for the AT was developed based on the lessons learned from these case studies. The purpose of this AT is to contribute to strengthening community-based food and nutrition programmes. The ultimate objective of the AT is to help the users launch and develop a process to strengthen their country's ability to address the causes of malnutrition. It is generally agreed that we need to address not only the immediate causes of malnutrition, but also their underlying factors if we are to achieve nutritional well- being and reach functional and productive capacity of a population. The methodology is divided into four sections covering programme design, the macroenvironment, the microenvironment, and sustainability. The AT is used for making suggestions for action following the assessment. Anticipated users are normally food and nutrition programme planners, but any number of individuals with planning and programmatic responsibility who are concerned about poverty alleviation and overall development can, and should be, part of the Assessment Team. The AT includes those important aspects of programme design having a significant impact on programme performance. Ultimately all nutrition programmes must aim to improve nutritional status. This improvement must be the primary objective of any comprehensive, national food and nutrition programme and it must also be measurable using accepted indicators. Thus, all objectives need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Assessing the extent of community participation is essential because it is a key prerequisite for empowerment and sustainability. Participation ranges from passive to self-mobilization. A useful method for assessing it is to measure participation in five key areas: needs assessment, leadership, organization, resource mobilization and management. An interesting methodology exists for this, making use of a 'spidergram', and instructions on its use are included in Annex 4.


Date and language
Dec 2005
Agris Subject Categories: 
Nutrition programmes
Physical Location: 
FPMU Documentation Center
Classification Number: 
Other information
Printed resource

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