Development Food Aid Program (DFAP)

Case Studies
Agriculture, Food Security, Nutrition
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) - Ethiopia
Publication Dates:
October, 2013
Content Formats:

This is one of 50 Harvesting Nutrition project case studies. Harvesting Nutrition was a contest held in 2012 and 2013 that showcased active projects working to improve the impact of agriculture and/or food security on nutrition outcomes. Co-sponsors were SecureNutrition, Save the Children UK, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Learn More.

Project Description: ​

The Development Food Aid Program (DFAP) is a USAID supported initiative in Ethiopia with the objective of sustaining and building upon food security improvements achieved under the Government of Ethiopia, Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). Through the DFAP, CRS Ethiopia addresses the underlying causes of chronic food insecurity through community asset building, health, nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions and through cross-cutting initiatives including gender, capacity building and disability inclusion.

The DFAP has two Strategic Objectives (SOs) addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity. Strategic Objective 1 aims to prevent asset depletion in targeted chronically food insecure households through the development of communal and social assets coupled with the timely and efficient delivery of food aid. Strategic Objective 2 aims to improve the health, nutrition and sanitation status of children under five years of age and of women.

Through the DFAP, CRS implements a full range of PSNP activities in seven traditional woredas (six in the Oromia Regional State, one in rural Dire Dawa City Administration) targeting a total of 188,522 PSNP clients.

Impact of project: ​

One key achievement has been the promotion and the development of keyhole and home gardens coupled with food preparation and preservation of vegetables and learning sessions. The focus is to increase and ensure year-round availability and intake of micronutrient-rich foods in poor households. These activities particularly target pregnant and lactating women and mothers of children under five. This initiative has been particularly well received and taken up by target beneficiaries because it is seen as a locally applicable intervention that is easy to replicate. This integration of household-level agricultural production allows women to put the health messaging around integrated feeding and nutrient-rich meals into practice. It also leads to reduced dependency on food aid for the prevention of malnutrition and less burden on the public health system.

An important step to improving the health and nutrition status of women and children under five is also the use of a targeted approach to achieve positive behavior change at household and community levels. Through the provision of Essential Nutrition Action (ENA) using behavior change communication (BCC) and role plays at food distribution points and health centres linked with initiatives to advance disease prevention and case management, the CRS DFAP has improved health outcomes for both PSNP and non-PSNP beneficiaries in the project sites.

Why this project is a Good Practice example: ​

The DFAP has been designed to address the needs of food insecure households with integrated interventions that include food aid, community asset building, health, nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), as well as micro-finance initiatives.  The integration of agriculture and nutrition and allows households to better meet their food security and health needs, and to build resiliency. The health interventions are designed to address needs at the household level and to provide health system strengthening of the public health system. The key success of the program is the integration of notable food security agriculture and nutrition interventions. These include conducting food transfers, improving natural resources, engaging target populations in food for work programs that improve agricultural conditions, promoting essential nutrition actions (ENA) and health practices, providing relief feeding as a disaster mitigation technique, Health System Strengthening (HSS), Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).

In addition, to reduce women’s workload and improved health, the program promotes fuel saving stoves and trains women in fuel saving stove production, which provides non-farm income for women. Women are also targeted for a savings and loan scheme.

DFAP also reflects the components of the CRS Integral Human Development (IHD) framework which affirms that human development cannot be reduced or separated into component parts. Rather, personal wellbeing can only be achieved in the context of just and peaceful relationships and a thriving environment. It is the sustained growth that everyone has the right to enjoy. IHD promotes the good of every person and the whole person; it is cultural, economic, political, social and spiritual.  By addressing barriers of access through agriculture and micro-finance, and utilization through nutrition behavior change communication (BCC) and food demonstrations, households are able to see a greater impact on their food security and dietary diversity.

Impact Evaluation:

Impact evaluation in progress

Lessons Learned: ​

Government partnership has been integral to the success of the project and has been prioritized in the design, preparation, implementation and evaluation of the program components. During the design and preparation stages government partners were consulted to ensure the program was aligned with government priorities and the needs of the communities. During implementation CRS has ensured government engagement through membership of food security and nutrition task forces, and ensuring that the project is integrated into local government development plans. Government partners also participate in regular monitoring of the program where feedback is provided on areas of improvement. In addition government partners will be key members of the planned midterm evaluation in 2014.

Ensuring sustainability of community assets has also been essential to ensure long-term outcomes for food insecure communities. Community asset building has been carried out by engaging target populations in food for work programs and public work activities that include natural resource management to improve agriculture conditions. The community is involved in identifying public works that will meet their needs, as well as participating in the construction of the community assets. Community members also play a key role in oversight of the development of assets and they will be part of the team the projects will be handed over to.


Funders: USAID Food for Peace (FFP), Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

Primary Contact: Art Kirby, Head of Programs

Country: Ethiopia Project Dates: August 2011 to July 2016

Interventions: Incorporate explicit nutrition objectives and indicators, Assess the context at the local level, Target the vulnerable and improve equity, Collaborate and coordinate with other sectors, Maintain or improve the natural resource base, Empower women, Facilitate production diversification, Improve processing, storage and preservation, Incorporate nutrition promotion and education,

Target Population: Women, Children under 5, Rural households,

Project Stage: Ongoing activities

Geographic Coverage: State/Province