Goat Farming in Nebaj, Guatemala. Photo Credit: Jordan J. Hay 2015

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Food Security and Livelihoods

Doing a World of Good for Children Around the World

For the approximately 820 million people coping with chronic hunger, it’s not about missing a single meal; it’s about days and months and years of being undernourished. For children, continued undernourishment can lead to stunted growth and cognitive impairment, diminished educational attainment and a lifetime of lower income, continuing a cycle of hunger and poverty. Our food security programs help families increase production, diversify incomes, save for the future and ensure that their children are well-nourished, so that they thrive and reach their full potential. They also help to improve long-term food security and increase resilience to shocks and stresses with context-specific, integrated approaches. In all programs, 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 tailored to the specific contexts of communities facing poverty and food insecurity, we are able to make a sustainable difference for families in need.

Agriculture & Inclusive Markets

More than half of the people living without enough food are smallholder farming families. Income from agriculture, livestock and fishing can be irregular due to price fluctuations, climate change and seasonality. Save the Children aims to address these challenges by helping to enhance productivity through improved practices and technologies; reducing the susceptibility of farming to shocks through climate-smart and environmentally sustainable approaches; improving business practices to make farming more profitable; facilitating links between producers, intermediaries, markets and last mile service providers; and, directly supporting firms and social enterprises to develop models and products appropriate for smallholder producers. While direct support such as providing seeds or training to farmers is an important short-term measure, we transition from these activities to more systemic interventions through approaches that strengthen markets and institutions as soon as possible.

Household Economic Strengthening

Since traditional livelihoods such as agriculture may not provide the means to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity for many households, particularly as populations grow, Save the Children also promotes alternative livelihood strategies by analyzing household economic assets and prospects and working with members of these households to diversify livelihoods through non-farm employment and entrepreneurship options. Our employment and entrepreneurship initiatives help the income earning prospects of at-risk women, men and youth by assessing high-potential employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and providing vocational/technical education, life skills training, functional literacy and numeracy education, entrepreneurial training, business start-up support and job linkage support. We also help program participants to apply their new skills through apprenticeships or enterprise groups, where they can gain confidence and credibility with employers and clients.

Financial Inclusion

Improved access to financial services is essential for resilience and prosperity. Access to savings and loan products can help program participants to save for the future, start a business or cope with an emergency. Save the Children supports the creation and strengthening of village savings and loan associations – with a significant but not exclusive focus on women and youth. Our programs also link households, communities, entrepreneurs and producer groups to micro-finance institutions, insurance providers, savings and credit cooperatives, banks and other financial institutions, while enhancing financial literacy.

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

Maternal and child health and nutrition, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene interventions are vital components in Save the Children’s food security programs. Our work increases access to diverse and nutritious foods and improves care and feeding practices for at-risk groups such as children under five years of age, pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls. We work hand in hand with local governments and the private sector to improve the quality of and access to services for family planning, maternal and child health and the prevention and treatment of malnutrition. Improved access to clean water – coupled with improved hygiene and sanitation practices - is an essential component of our efforts to improve health and nutrition outcomes globally and these are often integrated into food security programming.

Gender Equity and Social Inclusion

Food security, nutrition and resilience are greatly impacted by the power relations between men and women and the different levels of access, control and decision making they have over resources. To address this, Save the Children focuses on gender transformative programming that empowers women and girls socially and economically, engages community influencers to tackle harmful gender norms and promotes joint decision-making between men and women using culturally appropriate and sensitive approaches to increase equity and inclusion. Save the Children also works to ensure that community governance structures are equitable and include representation from women, youth and marginalized groups.

Food Assistance

Our programs are designed to address the root causes of food insecurity and to bring about sustainable poverty reduction and nutrition outcomes. However, chronically vulnerable communities often require interim support to maintain or improve their food security and nutrition status while they work towards longer-term solutions. When such support is required, Save the Children provides targeted food assistance to vulnerable households and household members. This food assistance can take the form of in-kind commodity, cash or vouchers distributions. Food assistance may also take the form of cash or food for asset interventions that are tied to public works or local infrastructure projects.

Resilience and Disaster Management

The communities in which Save the Children works are exposed to a range of shocks and stresses – from natural disasters such as drought and floods, to the long term effects of climate change, to conflict and market disruptions and a range of more individualized family-level shocks. To reduce the susceptibility of communities to these shocks and stresses, Save the Children works with community groups and local governments to strengthen early warning systems, develop disaster management plans and resources and take early action to reduce the impacts of shocks.

IDEAL

A group of women seated on the floor sit cross-legged and listen intently to one another during a discussion of vocational training of working teenagers in Bangladesh. Save the Children supports programs around the world aimed at changing dangerous working conditions for children. Photo credit: Save the Children, March 2017.

IDEAL is an activity funded by the USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP) that works to support the United States Government’s goal of improving food and nutrition security among the world’s most vulnerable households and communities. IDEAL addresses knowledge and capacity gaps expressed by the food and nutrition security implementing community to support them in the design and implementation of effective development and emergency food security activities.
To learn more about IDEAL, visit https://www.fsnnetwork.org/

A Youth in Action program graduate student named Kassoum proudly stands in a field in Burkina Faso that is brimming with large, green crops. As the sun shines, Kassoum holds a large harvesting tool over his shoulder and smiles as he displays the freshly picked vegetables his year-round small farm produces. In partnership with Mastercard Foundation, Save the Children’s Youth in Action program works to improve the socio-economic status of over 40,000 out-of-school youth, girls and boys, aged 12-18 in rural Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. Photo credit: Harrison Thane | Save the Children, August, 2017.

The Resilience Evaluation, Analysis and Learning (REAL) Associate Award is a five-year program funded by the USAID Center for Resilience. Led by Save the Children in a consortium with Food for the Hungry, Mercy Corps and TANGO International, it was established to respond to the growing demand among USAID missions, host governments, implementing organizations and other key stakeholders for rigorous yet practical monitoring, evaluation, strategic analysis and capacity-building support related to resilience. From technical guidance notes to evaluative research reports and practitioner-focused capacity strengthening activities, REAL supports learning and development that promotes best practice in resilience program design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and learning.

The PRO-WASH Associate Award, led by Save the Children and funded by FFP, is a new five-year initiative aimed at strengthening the effectiveness and sustainability of WASH practices in FFP-funded development and emergency food security programs. Activities include consulting widely with the WASH community of practice; collecting and analyzing evidence; identifying effective practices; strengthening skills and capacities among implementing partners; updating or creating new tools; sharing and disseminating knowledge; linking to other WASH actors; and supporting applied research into field-viable solutions for improving WASH service delivery.

The Strengthening Capacity in Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment (SCALE) Associate Award, implemented by Save the Children in collaboration with Mercy Corps, is a five-year, FFP-funded program designed to further improve the impact, sustainability and scalability of FFP’s activities in agriculture, natural resource management and livelihoods. Specifically, the program will focus on sustainable and climate-sensitive approaches that foster resilient agricultural systems and enhance income opportunities within agricultural systems and off-farm livelihoods.

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