Mapping the Evidence on Resilience and Food Security

Widespread hunger, malnutrition, and water insecurity have devastating impacts on the health and well-being of millions of people. Evidence on what approaches are most effective to address these challenges and increase resilience can help make better investments and decisions. To strengthen evidence-informed decision-making at USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS), 3ie has partnered with MIT and the University of Notre Dame for the RFS Evidence Aggregation for Programmatic Approaches (REAPER) project. We are developing four evidence gap maps on agriculture-led growth, resilience, nutrition and water security, sanitation, and hygiene.

Mapping the evidence on resilience and food security

RFS has three offices and four technical centres that deliver strategic, programmatic, and analytical assistance to inclusively address and build resilience capacity in low and low-middle income countries. 3ie is working in collaboration with key technical partners to improve the quality of evidence underpinning RFS’s technical approaches and its work in four areas that include agriculture-led growth, resilience, nutrition and water security, sanitation, and hygiene.

We will systematically identify, analyze and map the existing evidence base for potential gaps, highlight existing evidence to determine the effectiveness of interventions in each of these areas, and incorporate new evidence. The evidence gap maps (EGMs) will help understand where rigorous research exists, the underlying studies, and where more research is needed. We are also exploring and leveraging advances in machine learning methods to synthesize evidence.

For the ag-led growth, nutrition and resilience EGMs, the technical approaches will be translated into a matrix of interventions and outcomes. Studies will be mapped onto the matrix framework to provide an overview of the evidence base and underscore the major primary and synthesis evidence gaps in the literature.

For the WASH EGM, we are developing a new mapping methodology. We will use an outcome-to-outcome mapping approach to help decision-makers understand whether there are linkages between achieving intermediate WASH outcomes and the attainment of longer-term goals such as prosperity, stability, and resilience. It will enable them to get answers to specific questions such as: which studies explore whether improvements in water utility-consumer relations have an impact on prosperity?

This research consortium brings together experts from MIT, including D-Lab, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Abdul Lateef Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS), 3ie, and the University of Notre Dame, in partnership with the USAID Bureau of Development, Democracy, and Innovation (DDI), Innovation, Technology, and Research (ITR) Hub, Research (R) Unit, and the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS), Office of Policy, Analysis, and Engagement (PAE), Analysis and Learning Division (ALD).

Disclaimer: This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of 3ie and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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