Beyond Productivity: Delivering on Food and Nutrition Security in a Changing Climate

What is our goal?

CARE aims to make 50 million people more food secure and resilient to climate impacts by 2020. To meet this goal, CARE’s focuses Beyond Productivity in our work with local and global food systems. We use the SuPER principles to guide our work. These hold that food and agriculture systems (from inputs to production to processing and marketing, as well as consumption) should be Sustainable, Productive and Profitable, Equitable, and Resilient. They should be designed to achieve multiple benefits at the same time: increasing production, productivity, and incomes, building the resilience of small-scale food producers to climate change, while contributing to women’s empowerment, improved nutrition, and a reduced environmental footprint, and without undermining the food and nutrition security of future generations.


How are we measuring it?

To hold ourselves accountable to this goal, CARE evaluates our programs and tracks our global portfolio to see what impacts we have, what we are learning, and what we can do better. The report Beyond Productivity: Delivering Impacts on Food and Nutrition Security in a Changing Climate examines the results from 107 evaluations between 2013 and 2016, and draws from CARE's Program Impact and Information Reporting System (PIIRS) to give ourselves a picture of CARE's impact, in collaboration with our partners and participants from around the world. This report helps us demonstrate how we make the SuPER principles operational, and provides evidence of how focusing on SuPER makes real changes for the poorest and most vulnerable people.


What did we find? 

In FY15, CARE worked with over 25 million participants directly, and 79 million indirectly, and had over 525 projects in 46 countries that focused on food and nutrition security and climate change. This work spans nutrition, smallholder agriculture, sustainable economies, and humanitarian assistance. 

We know that reaching people is not enough.  We aspire to help people change their own lives so they can be food and nutrition secure and climate resilient in the long term.  So how are we doing? A selection of results from the full report is:

  • In Uganda's Global Water Initiative, farmers' yields more than doubled using water-smart technologies. Crop production went from 1,340kg to 3,079kg per acre. That means farmer income could go up to $862 per acre, from the $375 that was possible before.
  • In Bangladesh's Sustainable Dairy Value Chains, the private sector changed its approach to working with poor women farmers, resulting in a nearly 400% increase in incomes, as well as a dramatic increase in women's inclusion in the supply chain (from 2% of suppliers to 55% of suppliers).
  • In the six country program Pathways, women's access to extension services tripled, and as a result income went up by more than $7.3 million across 50,000 women farmers.
  • In Niger's Women on the Move, 15,000 groups of women save more than $4.9 million a year.  Half of all women elected to public office in Niger have gone through this program, and the number of elected women tripled. 
  • In Kenya's Adaptation and Learning Program, research showed that every dollar invested in Community Based Adaptation gave a nearly $4 return. 
  • In Peru's Initiative against Chronic Infant Malnutrition, CARE and its partners were able to push the government for substantial changes that cut chronic malnutrition in half and scaled impact from 4,000 children to 600,000.
  • In Ethiopia's Improving Health and Nutrition of Vulnerable Women and Children, women's ability to make joint decisions with their husbands rose by 30%.

Where do we go next?

The review also shows us some promising ways forward to scale across all programming to improve our impact, as well as some lessons learned for new approaches.

  • Design for scale: It is important we include scale from the outset as we design new programs. This entails building in enough flexibility to be able to test our assumptions and models and ensure that we fail fast and learn swiftly to continue to improve and scale out.
  • Develop measurement systems: At present, our systems do not allow us to make judgments about the global impact we are having. We measure on a project-by-project basis. So for FY17, starting on July 1, 2016, we are rolling out a new set of global metrics in our indicator system.
  • Give nutrition a nudge: Successful programs do not assume that greater availability of food—even nutritious food—or higher income automatically translates into improved nutrition. Our programs give nutrition a nudge by providing nutrition education about diets for women, infants and young children.
  • Commit to addressing climate change: Sustained commitment to climate change adaptation and risk management activities over the longer term is critical given the severity of the impact of climate change on small-scale food producers.
  • Provide a range of options: Projects that are most successful help communities find the options that work best for them, and offer choices for various levels of assets and abilities. 
  • Build crisis modifiers in long term programs: Anticipating crises and integrating contingency plans to long term programs supports quick response actions when crisis hit.

Read the full report