Project Approaches

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

  • Nutrition-sensitive principles can be applied to public works, insurance, microfinance, transfer, and other social protection mechanisms. There is ongoing program research in many of these areas.
  • Consider adoption of the following principles:
    • Include nutrition education and behavior change activities in social protection interventions to increase household awareness of health and nutrition, care giving and health-seeking behaviors
    • Scale up social protection programs in times of crisis to reduce negative nutritional impacts
    • Promote parent participation in health/life skills education
    • Target activities to the most nutritionally vulnerable populations and consider who should be the main beneficiary within the household to maximize impact on nutrition.
  • Consider the delivery mechanisms for cash transfer programs and aim to minimize any negative impacts on nutrition and caring practices, especially for pregnant and lactating women.
  • Ensure the type of programme fits the local context and take into consideration what types of complementary services are available.
  • Consider the integration of empowerment and income-generating activities to encourage sustainable outcomes.
  • Undertake analysis on the cost of a nutritious diet[1] and use this to inform the size of a transfer for nutrition-focused programs.
  • Social protection targeting systems identify vulnerable populations, who are often at risk of malnutrition. These data may be available in the social protection ministry.
  • Social protection sometimes includes home gardening or similar agricultural interventions because of income-generating potential.
  • Use approved infant and young child feeding (IYCF) training packages (available in most countries) that also cover birth spacing, WASH, and healthcare.
  • Understand the basic tenets of the “1000 Days” approach to provide strong rational for projects to support pregnant and lactating women, and children in their first 2 years of life.
  • Bring a nutrition specialist in early during design phase.

How does it help

  • Understand the role that improved nutrition can play in achieving social protection outcomes.
  • Understand the role that social protection can play in improving nutrition outcomes.
  • Design an effective nutrition-sensitive project or component that acts to improve nutrition outcomes while achieving sector/project objectives.
  • Leverage existing systems/platforms that deliver nutrition services, or which may be able to incorporate them.

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.

Household Economy Approach and Cost of Diet tools



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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.