A decision-support tool for the design of food & nutrition security programming


H. Posthumus, J. Dengerink, B. de Steenhuijsen-Piters, S. Vellema, Julie Newton (contributor), Mona Dhamankar (contributor)

Food & nutrition security is an important policy goal for national governments in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Government policy makers, donors and other key actors are confronted with the complexity of factors that influence food security. These factors originate from different levels, from macro-economy and national policy, to a diversity of local actors. This complexity creates risks and challenges that policy interventions do not reach their goals.

The decision-support tool uses theoretical insights from systems thinking literature and tacit knowledge of key informants through expert and policy workshops. It combines these types of knowledge through practical steps to focus, prioritise and strategise food and nutrition security interventions and policies that can bring about transformative change in food systems. It aims to base intervention programming on insights into the underlying dynamics (e.g. feedback loops, causal processes) of food systems and societal challenges.

Moreover, it uses system thinking to focus interventions on typical system behaviours (called archetypes) and on leverage points for bringing about transformative change. The stepwise approach leads towards identifying which actors are able to influence and direct this transformation. Taking the different steps helps to match the broader food and nutrition security objectives and the context-specific dynamics and relationships in food systems.