Country Context

Disclaimer: This How-To Guide provides at-a-glance information about concepts and strategies that connect different sectors. It is not intended to be comprehensive and is not officially endorsed by any organization. It is a “sign post” document that indicates key concepts and suggests where to look for further information. Read more

Nutrition is important to social protection because it supports human capital across generations. Social protection is important to nutrition because it provides delivery systems to reach nutritionally vulnerable people. 

Jump to: What to look for | How does it help | More information

What to Know & Look For

  • Nearly all countries have social protection instruments that reach vulnerable populations – the same groups often at risk of malnutrition. However, in many countries there are gaps in social protection coverage, effectiveness, child-sensitivity and incorporation of nutrition
  • The relationship between poverty and nutrition varies between countries.
  • There are global SDG targets for certain nutrition indicators.
  • The most up-to-date country and sub-national nutrition data are typically available through the government unit overseeing nutrition, or the department of statistics.
  • The immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition are numerous and vary by and within countries. It is important to understand the specific drivers of malnutrition in the country/region in which you’re working.
  • A government unit overseeing nutrition within countries typically has government-endorsed guidelines, key messages and other social and behavior change communication (SBCC) materials for nutrition and nutrition-related topics.
  • Typically, there are many International Organizations (IOs), International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), and local NGOs working in collaboration with government to deliver nutrition interventions.

How does it help

  • Assess the social protection context, to identify ways to improve coverage and effectiveness as well as impact on child outcomes, including nutrition.
  • Find reliable and current nutrition reference data for inclusion in your project documents.
  • Assess the drivers of malnutrition and determine the extent and type of the malnutrition problem compared to global targets and similar countries.
  • Identify locally relevant/appropriate nutrition messaging.
  • Identify and understand the other nutrition-related programs and projects underway in-country.
  • Identify partners able to provide localized information on drivers of malnutrition and SBCC materials.

More Information

This How-To Guide is intended to support those who design and implement nutrition-sensitive programs. It will be reviewed twice yearly by SecureNutrition staff at the World Bank and by individual technical partners. The last time the How-To Guide was updated was 1 April 2016. We welcome your suggestions: Contact us

We recommend that any project and/or program manager seeking to design or implement a nutrition-sensitive project seek the assistance of a nutrition specialist.



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What is malnutrition?
Poor nutritional status caused by nutritional deficiency or excess.

What is stunting?
Low height for age, when compared to a global sex-specific standard.

What is dietary diversity?
The number of food groups consumed over a given period of time that can be used as an indicator of household food security, or diet quality. 

What is 1000 Days?
The period from conception to the completion of the child’s second year of life in which nutritional requirements are substantial and damage from malnutrition is largely irreversible.