DFID’s Contribution to Improving Nutrition

9 Jul 2014

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published a report today on the Department for International Development’s contribution to improving nutrition.

DFID spent £192.8 million on nutrition in 2012 and this is expected to more than double by 2015. DFID has committed £3.3 billion to nutrition in 2013-20 and aims to contribute to a dramatic reduction in the high levels of global undernutrition. To achieve this, DFID has supported global action, invested in projects and generated evidence on new solutions. DFID has a globally recognised and effective nutrition programme. It has played a key role in mobilising the global community to combat undernutrition and in setting the global agenda.

DFID started scaling up its nutrition work in 2010. The pace and scale of DFID’s global work is good but implementation at the country level has been too slow. As a result, it is too early to show impact, though we saw some promising signs. Although DFID’s work is based on sound evidence, DFID’s projects do not always focus on interventions with the greatest impact on stunting. DFID should improve the monitoring of its programmes and ensure results are not over-reported. We believe that a greater focus is needed on the most vulnerable and ‘hard-to-reach’ mothers and children.

As a result of these findings, we have given a marking of Green-Amber.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said: “DFID’s pace of delivery at the global level is good. At the portfolio level, DFID has scaled up investments significantly, although it could have done so more quickly, given the high priority it gives to nutrition. At the country level, implementation has been slow. We found that tighter project management, including a better selection of partners, is needed to improve the pace of implementation at the country level.”

Lead Commissioner, Mark Foster, said, “DFID is making efforts to ensure the sustainability of its investments. If global undernutrition is to be overcome, donors and governments will need to make long-term commitments. DFID’s standard three-to-five-year project time frames are not sufficient to ensure that impact takes place. DFID should plan and implement longer multi-phase projects of up to ten years to ensure that its projects do impact on stunting. It should also build its capacity to design and implement nutrition projects effectively.”


ICAI has made five recommendations to support DFID’s nutrition work:

Recommendation 1: DFID should make long-term commitments to maintain the pace and scale of its nutrition investments through its country programmes.

Recommendation 2: DFID should implement nutrition interventions which will have the greatest impact on stunting and cognitive development.

Recommendation 3: DFID should ensure that its interventions target better the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable mothers and children.

Recommendation 4: DFID should work with partners globally and in developing countries to ensure systems are in place to measure the impacts of its programmes.

Recommendation 5: DFID should actively explore ways in which to engage the private sector in reducing undernutrition.


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