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Publication | 12 June 2020

Maximizing Social Protection's Contribution to Human Capital Development -Fill the Nutrient Gap Analysis

Global Food and Nutrition Security

Adequate nutrition can drive human capital development by preventing stunting and allowing children to reach their full potential, leading more productive and healthier lives.

National social protection programmes have an instrumental role in improving nutrition. Social protection programmes can reach underserved populations, who are difficult to access through health and nutrition platforms. When social protection programmes are appropriately designed and tailored, they can reduce economic barriers to nutritious diets for vulnerable groups across the lifecycle.

Analytical tools such as the World Food Programme’s Fill the Nutrient Gap (FNG) analysis enable policymakers and programme managers to evaluate and compare the potential contribution of social protection programmes to nutrition, informing national dialogue to make social protection work better for nutrition and human capital development.

FNG analysis identifies bottlenecks across the food system driving malnutrition, such as inadequate consumption of nutritious foods, with an emphasis on availability, cost, and affordability of a nutritious diet. FNG analysis identifies the characteristics of households least able to afford or access nutritious diets across food environments and seasons, unpacking the underlying factors driving the cost of nutritious diets, and highlighting the nutritious foods most challenging to access, and for whom.

FNG analysis models the impact of social protection interventions (social safety nets, school feeding programmes, conditional/non-conditional cash transfers etc.) on the ability of households and individuals to access nutritious diets. FNG facilitates a policy dialogue between nutrition, social protection, health, education, agriculture and other sectors for coordinated decision-making based on analytical findings.

Based on FNG evidence and a solid understanding of the challenges households and individuals face accessing nutritious diets there is great potential for social protection to support the most vulnerable by providing and linking to programmes and services needed for optimal nutrition and health.

In combination with transfers to increase access to nutritious foods, social protection programmes can serve as delivery platforms for social and behaviour change interventions for better nutrition and can incentivize healthseeking and preventative behaviours.