Food insecurity continues to be a global challenge, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. In its latest report on food security and nutrition, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that, in 2020, nearly two billion people faced moderate or severe levels of food insecurity.
Key drivers of food insecurity include climate change, conflict, and poverty which, in turn, are the chief causes of displacement and marginalization, intensifying existing inequalities in food access and how food is consumed. To achieve food security, including a diverse and nutritious diet, it is paramount to support sustainable, community-based agriculture. Many international development programs aim to improve food systems by identifying and tackling existing weaknesses, while others, through food and livelihood assistance, help vulnerable populations negatively impacted by natural and man-made disasters.
Smallholder farmers throughout the developing world rely on crops or livestock for food and income. They face many challenges, from pest and disease outbreaks among their livestock, to poor rural infrastructure. Women, who play a key role in agriculture, face additional barriers to production related to limited access to land ownership, education, and credit. Programs that help smallholder farmers manage the many challenges they face play an indispensable part in enhancing sustainable, community-based agriculture.
AIR and Kimetrica (a wholly owned subsidiary of AIR) conduct rigorous quantitative and qualitative research of agricultural development projects to better understand how various programs can improve smallholder farmer food security, income, and livelihoods. We also engage in technical assistance activities such as providing third party monitoring (TPM) of food assistance and cash distributions, and other related programs.
AIR and Kimetrica's current work includes projects in Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, India, Madagascar, Mali, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia:
- In East and West Africa, the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) project provides near real-time analysis on famine threats.
- The Food Security Third Party Monitoring (FSTPM) project provides critical, near real-time analysis to support targeting of life-saving support in some of the world’s most crisis-prone locations.
- Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) project uses digital technologies in agriculture to increase small-scale farmer incomes, boost resilience, improve food availability.
- Ethiopia's Recurring Monitoring Study for USAID’s Livelihoods for Resilience (L4R) project supports and enhances livelihood opportunities for chronically food-insecure households in targeted areas.
- World Modelers uses South Sudan as a case study to develop tools that will help decision-makers come up with response options to mitigate food insecurity.
- USAID’s Partnership for Resilience and Economic Growth (PREG) Northern Kenya: Impact Evaluation Recurrent Monitoring System (RMS) works with the Government of Kenya to build resilience among vulnerable pastoralist communities in arid and semi-arid lands.
- The Food Security and Humanitarian Monitoring project used field-based researchers to conduct food security monitoring in some of the world’s most vulnerable, isolated, and volatile locations.
- Methods for Extremely Rapid Observation of Nutritional Status (MERON) is a non-invasive, time efficient, and tamper-proof approach to assessing malnutrition in children under five by using a facial recognition and processing algorithm.
- Addressing the need for rapid and reliable estimates of human populations, Population Explorer: Web-Services for Small Area Population Estimates is a web-based front-line tool developed for USAID's Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) to improve humanitarian response to disasters and other crises.
- Conducted in Kenya, the Nutritional Improvements through Cash and Health Education (NICHE) Evaluation assessed whether the NICHE program led households to choose more nutritious food.