Goat Farming in Nebaj, Guatemala. Photo Credit: Jordan J. Hay 2015
How You Can Help

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Non-Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods

Doing a World of Good for Children Around the World

According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, there are an estimated 780 million undernourished people in the world. Save the Children’s Food Security and Livelihoods programs help vulnerable families and communities to improve their long-term food security and increase their resilience to shocks and stresses with context-specific, integrated approaches. Based on thorough needs assessments and working with key partners, we design and implement approaches that address issues of:

  • Availability (physical presence of food)
  • Access (resources to buy or trade for food as well as the infrastructure to obtain it)
  • Utilization (the ability to absorb calories and nutrients)
  • Stability (the existence of availability and access, and the resilience to withstand and cope with emergencies)

Each program differs based on the needs on the ground, incorporates community priorities and draws on technical expertise and learning. Interventions take into account the necessary elements to ensure sustainability at the household and community levels as well as through system strengthening and development of linkages. Programs focus on developing the capacities within households to ensure consistent income and year-round food availability, the ability to manage financial resources as a means to promote resilience to shocks and stresses as well as for investment, and the means to continuously build assets and capabilities to address their own future needs and growth. Specific activities can range from the direct provision of food during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life or through food for work, from village savings and loans to on- and off-farm livelihood options. They can also include a focus on improving nutrition and access to improved health services, better disaster risk reduction, and improved infrastructure. Regardless of the program, however, Save the Children is always sensitive to the roles of women, men, boys and girls in promoting food security as well as the need to safeguard natural resources for current and future generations. Through a mix of interventions, we are able to make a sustainable difference for families in need.

Agriculture & Inclusive Markets

A disproportionate number of the world’s poorest 2 billion people (those earning less than $2 per day) live in rural areas. More than half of the people living without enough food are smallholder farming families. Income from agriculture is inherently risky and irregular in nature due to price fluctuations, climate change and seasonality.

Save the Children aims to address the challenges faced by the rural poor by helping them to overcome barriers as well as facilitating ways of increasing opportunities in rural market systems. Our focus is not just on enabling poor families to meet their own food needs through improved agricultural production, but to actively participate in market systems. While direct support such as providing seeds or training to farmers is an important short-term measure, we complement these activities with more systemic interventions through a value chain approach that strengthens markets and institutions.

Youth Employment

Since reduced land holdings and traditional livelihoods such as pastoralism or agriculture may not provide long-term food security, Save the Children is placing greater emphasis on promoting alternative livelihood strategies — especially for youth. Save the Children’s employment initiatives help close the gap between labor supply and demand to improve the income earning prospects of at-risk youth around the world. In programs in Ethiopia and Nepal, Save the Children is providing vocational/technical education, life skills training, financial literacy, and entrepreneurial training that youth need to in order to be competitive in their local job markets. We also help young people access opportunities to apply their new skills through apprenticeships or enterprise groups, where they can gain confidence and credibility in front of employers and clients.

Health, Nutrition & Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Save the Children recognizes maternal and child health and nutrition interventions as well as water, sanitation and hygiene as vital components in its food security programs. Our work increases access to diverse and nutritious foods, improves the quality of and access to services for acute malnutrition, family planning, and other health needs, and supports community-government collaboration against malnutrition. Save the Children has adopted and scaled the 1,000 days approach to combat undernutrition. Programs may provide food or focus more on social behavior change strategies. Improved access to clean water for drinking and cooking is an essential component of Save the Children’s efforts to improve health and nutrition outcomes globally. Infrastructure assistance such as wells, latrines and hand washing stations are often included in Save the Children’s food security programs to ensure a safe supply of water. In all programs, Save the Children is careful to ensure that messages reach everyone in the family and that activities work together and are mutually reinforcing.

Climate Change Adaptation & Risk Reduction

Changes in the frequency and duration of rainfall, along with rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather events such as floods and droughts put already precarious livelihoods and ecosystems further at risk. The poor, and women and marginalized groups especially, often bear the brunt of climate change since they are the least equipped to respond. Lack of access to decision-making processes, lack of control over economic assets, financial services and social safety nets, and mobility during disasters makes them more vulnerable to the negative impacts. Save the Children’s climate change adaptation interventions work to reduce vulnerability and build the adaptive capacity of families and local communities to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from emergencies due to climate change and disasters. Save the Children’s programs promote early warning systems and reduce disaster risk through improved natural resource management as well as creation of community assets and plans.

Gender Equity & Social Inclusion

Food security, nutrition and resilience are greatly impacted by the power relations between men and women and the different access, control and decision making they have over resources. To address this, Save the Children focuses on gender roles and the control of resources and power in its programs using culturally appropriate and sensitive approaches to increase equity and inclusion.


The Technical Operations Performance Support (TOPS) Program is a USAID/Food For Peace-funded (FFP) program that strengthens the capacity of FFP grantees and other food security and nutrition implementers through a range of learning initiatives. The TOPS Program works to ensure that more communities and households benefit from the U.S. Government’s investment in fighting global hunger by providing:

  • Linkages to the greater food security community, promising practices, a library of resources, and upcoming events through the Food Security and Nutrition (FSN) Network and its website
  • Targeted technical training programs, knowledge sharing events, a biannual conference, and ongoing technical support to increase their knowledge of promising practices as well as FFP strategies and directives
  • Funding for innovative research, tools, resources, and workshops through the Small Grants Program
  • Developed and recommended tools and resources

Led by Save the Children US, The TOPS Program is a 7-year (2010–2017) $30 million consortium program drawing on the expertise of its partners:

  • CORE Group: knowledge management and the FSN Network
  • Food for the Hungry: social and behavioral change
  • Mercy Corps: agriculture and natural resource management
  • Save the Children: management of the program, commodity management, gender, and nutrition and food technology
  • TANGO International: monitoring and evaluation

To learn more about the TOPS Program, visit: http://www.thetopsprogram.org/


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