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 815 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 their agricultural production, diversify their 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 their long-term food security and increase their resilience to shocks and stresses with context-specific, integrated approaches. Specific activities include providing food, delivering food or cash for work, creating village savings and lending, and diversifying livelihoods. They can also include improving nutrition and access to improved health services, implementing better disaster risk reduction, and increasing infrastructure. 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, 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 can be irregular due to price fluctuations, climate change and seasonality. Save the Children aims to address the challenges by helping improve agricultural production, diversify incomes, and 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 value-chain approaches that strengthen markets and institutions.

Youth Employment

Since traditional livelihoods such as agriculture may not provide long-term food security, Save the Children also promotes alternative livelihood strategies — especially for youth. Our employment initiatives help the income earning prospects of at-risk youth around the world by 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 to apply their new skills through apprenticeships or enterprise groups, where they can gain confidence and credibility with employers and clients.

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

Maternal and child health and nutrition and 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, improves the quality of and access to services for acute malnutrition, family planning, and other health needs, and supports community-government collaboration against malnutrition. Improved access to clean water is an essential component of our efforts to improve health and nutrition outcomes globally, including assistance to build wells, latrines and hand washing stations to ensure a safe water supply.

Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction

Fluctuating rainfall, rising temperatures, and increasing extreme weather events put already precarious livelihoods further at risk. Climate change often impacts the poor harder, especially women and marginalized groups, since they are the least equipped to respond. Lack of access to decision-making processes, financial services, and social safety nets, lack of control over economic assets, and limited mobility during disasters makes them more vulnerable to the negative impacts. We work to reduce vulnerability and build the capacity of families and communities to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from climate change emergencies by promoting early warning systems, improving natural resources management, and creating community assets and disaster 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.



On January 31, 2018, after nearly seven-and-a-half years of delivering learning opportunities, capacity strengthening, stakeholder consultations and many other services on behalf of the food security and nutrition community, the original Technical and Operational Program Support (TOPS) Program award ended. Through a Food for Peace (FFP)-funded Associate Award, entitled Bridge, Save the Children, together with one of the original TOPS Program consortium members, CORE Group, will continue operating TOPS through January 2019, providing learning and technical services for program implementing partners and other stakeholders.

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

The TOPS 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 TOPS WASH Associate Award, led by Save the Children and funded by the USAID Office of Food for Peace (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 TOPS 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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