Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is establishing a lasting foundation for progress against global hunger. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty, and undernutrition. Feed the Future efforts are driven by country-led priorities and rooted in partnership with donor organizations, the private sector, and civil society to enable long-term success. Feed the Future aims to assist millions of vulnerable women, children, and family members to escape hunger and poverty, while also reaching significant numbers of children with highly effective nutrition interventions to prevent stunting and child mortality.
Over the next five years in Malawi, Feed the Future aims to help an estimated 281,000 vulnerable Malawian women, children, and family members—mostly smallholder farmers—escape hunger and poverty. More than 293,000 children will be reached with services to improve their nutrition and prevent stunting and child mortality. Significant numbers of additional rural populations will achieve improved income and nutritional status from strategic policy engagement and institutional investments.
The USG will make investments in nutrition across three critical sectors; agriculture, health, and social protection, with nutrition as the lynchpin between these sectors. As such, the USG will implement a comprehensive approach that maximizes all three sectors and strengthens and links the nutrition components of each. These investments will be underpinned by a core set of nutrition indicators that are common across all programs, and will be supported by policy investments that mirror the comprehensive nature of nutrition programming by working with the Office of the President’s Cabinet (OPC) and the Ministries of Agriculture and Food Security, Health, and Gender.
Building on lessons and experiences from current programs implementing preventive nutrition activities (e.g., the WALA and BASICS projects), USG resources will scale up prevention of undernutrition and resiliency of communities, while maintaining critical investments in treatment and nutrition service delivery. The rationale for this shift is due to the overall high prevalence of chronic undernutrition (47 percent) and the low prevalence of acute undernutrition (4 percent), the latter of which has been achieved by sustained commitment to scaling up CMAM. As a result, the USG will aim to drive a decrease in stunting as the highest level objective in FTF. The USG plans to focus on cost-effective preventive nutrition interventions targeting the 1,000 days window of development (pregnancy through two years), including maternal nutrition; early and exclusive breastfeeding through six months; use of appropriate, diverse foods beginning at six months of age; targeted micronutrient supplementation; and improved hygiene and sanitation. Activities will be integrated into health, HIV, and agriculture platforms, taking full advantage of the resources that these programs have. These investments leverage funding from health (Global Health and Child Survival), agriculture (Development Assistance), and Title II to advance nutrition objectives. The Care Group model encompasses a combined FTF and GHI approach to reduce poverty, hunger, and undernutrition by joining two complementary lines of investment at an operational level:
The objectives of the Care Groups complement value chain development activities by building capacity of:
Community-Level Organizations and Integration with Government of Malawi Systems for Health and Agricultural Extension
The Care Group in the context of this model is notable in that it supports a sustainable and simultaneous approach to agriculture, nutrition, and microfinance. Cross-fertilization of nutrition and agricultural messaging and skill building, as well as the opportunity to create cross-sector targets and results frameworks allows for a uniquely comprehensive approach.
Volunteers are trained and facilitated to conduct community outreach and follow-up in both agricultural- and health-focused nutrition interventions, thus supporting an operational link between nutrition and agriculture programming. Each volunteer takes on responsibility for conducting outreach and follow-up to some 10-12 nearby households. Care Group volunteers also have access to agricultural inputs to start and maintain community gardens, as well as engage in income-diversification through activities such as establishing voluntary savings and loan activities. Access to these inputs provides motivation and support for implementing targeted nutrition-focused interventions focused on behavior change, including:
Linking the agriculture and value chain components of the project with health and nutrition promotion at the community level is especially advantageous in that it provides opportunities to address two key crosscutting areas:
Prevention Linked with Health Service Delivery
The USG’s approach to service delivery covers community level action, improvement of quality at all levels of facilities, and strengthening the central and district level systems of management. This provides a common platform for multi-thematic messages and programs, ensuring that there are ―no missed opportunities‖. It also ensures a focused yet comprehensive basic package accessible to the Malawian population that stretches across the continuum of care from community to facility and from facility to community. At the community level, the Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) and health volunteers will continue to focus on interpersonal counseling, limited preventive and curative care through village clinics and drug boxes, and to create demand for services at the health facilities across family planning, maternal and neonatal health, child health, nutrition, malaria and HIV areas. At the facility level, the USG will support improved quality of care for existing interventions that target integrated and comprehensive primary health care provision and performance based incentives. At the national, zonal and district levels, USG programs will continue to strengthen the financial, management and leadership capabilities of the Ministry of Health staff. Also, programs will work closely with the technical staff to provide technical assistance and work toward meaningful policy changes. At all levels, USG resources will focus on integration of social and behavior change communication efforts through community and facility level entry points.
An important element of the multi-year FTF Strategy is monitoring and evaluation, which is an iterative learning process that will put into place the principle of a sustained and accountable delivery approach. Program activities must be monitored through periodic field visits by Mission staff and ongoing monitoring and learning by implementing partners. Mission staff has a key role to play in monitoring and learning from partners both through oversight and input to design of project level M&E plans and systems and also through follow-up on quarterly reports and other communication with partners.
The integration of agricultural, nutrition, and health elements into a joint strategic plan provides a unique opportunity to innovate, document, and demonstrate best practices associated with a concurrent multi-sector investment model. Also, the Malawi FTF Strategy will foster linkages among existing programs, which will harmonize key agriculture and nutrition and indicators across relevant areas of focus.
Building on this collaboration, both the Health and Sustainable Economic Growth (SEG) teams at USAID/Malawi will work together to integrate M&E systems and processes in order to track synergies and multiplier effects between the two sectors not captured through the agriculture/nutrition overlap. There is currently significant USG investment on the part of USAID through PEPFAR and GHI in health systems strengthening, family planning, and malaria and tuberculosis reduction among others in the geographic areas targeted through FTF. We believe it is critical to capture at the highest level the combined impact of FTF and GHI/PEPFAR in order to reduce duplication, increase the applicability of data across interventions and most importantly, learn across programs in order to improve and increase efficiency and impact of all USAID investments in Malawi. This integration of M&E function may take the form of harmonized M&E plans at the implementer level combined with joint monitoring visits by SEG and Health team members.
Reliable and well-defined monitoring, reporting and evaluation methods, roles and communication channels result in improved project and program management, promote ongoing learning and testing of development hypotheses and ensure accountability. A fully functioning M&E team and system further help to illustrate the Mission’s value added to overall development not only to key stakeholders in the USG, but also to the GoM and other development partners.
USAID/Malawi is currently refining Mission processes in line with the requirements and recommendations of the newly announced USAID Evaluation Policy. To that end, and in preparation for the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS), SEG will identify further impact evaluation questions and set aside funds for impact evaluation in 2011. This will serve as solid preparation for FTF-focused evaluation activities in subsequent years.
Prevalence of stunted children under five years of age; Prevalence of wasted children under five years of age; Prevalence of children 6-23 months receiving a minimum acceptable diet; Prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding of children under 6 months; Prevalence of households with moderate or severe hunger
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