Achieving sustainable, ethical and efficient food systems in support of human health is among the greatest challenges facing the global community. Improving nutrition is a core priority of the current international development agenda, and an area of increasing attention for many national governments, research institutions and the international development community.
Research in this programme pursues opportunities to achieve healthy diets and improved nutritional status in low- and middle-income countries. Our work comprises strategies to address diverse nutritional challenges, including both undernutrition (stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies) and overnutrition (overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases).
The Food Systems for Improved Nutrition programme draws together NRI’s expertise in multiple disciplinary areas, both in natural and social sciences, substantial in-country and field experience, and strong existing relationships with international partner institutions and donors.
The second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) highlights the multi-dimensional nature of food and nutrition security, encompassing not only the quantity of food available but also issues of resilience, nutrient content and food safety. Targets in SDG 2 incorporate both agriculture and nutrition, highlighting the importance of food-based approaches in addressing nutritional challenges.
Our research acknowledges the breadth of factors influencing food and nutrition security: at national, sub-national and household levels. Targets in SDG 5 – ensuring women have equal opportunities for leadership, equal rights to economic resources, and full and effective participation in decision-making – are central to improving nutritional outcomes, not only for women, but for children and other household members. SDG 12 includes targets for the efficient management and use of natural resources, and reduction of food loss and waste along supply chains. The NRI has particular expertise in both these areas, in its Gender and Social Difference Programme and Centre for Food Loss and Waste Reduction.
Our work primarily addresses challenges and opportunities within food systems in low- and middle-income countries, with a historical focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Particular emphasis is given to strategies which support nutritionally-vulnerable population groups, including infants and young children, adolescent girls and women of reproductive age.