Improving food security in humanitarian settings: An evidence gap map

Yavuz, C., Fenton Villar, P., Berretta, M., Lwamba, E., Nabi., Cooper, Chris., Shisler, S.
Publication language
Date published
01 Jul 2022
Protocols / Procedures
Development & humanitarian aid, Food security, Social protection

Humanitarian emergencies continue to affect a large proportion of the global population, threatening people’s health, livelihoods and food security. With limited resources to respond to these emergencies, there is a growing desire for high-quality evidence to understand the effects of emergency activities on vulnerable populations. This study presents an evidence gap map (EGM) of impact evaluations and systematic reviews on the effects of interventions in humanitarian settings on food security outcomes.

Examining the characteristics of this evidence base, the authors find this body of literature has tripled in the last five years, indicating an increasing amount of new knowledge and learning to draw on. However, we also find evidence is spread thinly across intervention categories, highlighting that many evidence gaps still exist, with only a larger cluster of impact evaluations around food, cash and other in-kind transfers and no impact evaluations in some areas (such as on early warning system interventions or outcomes related to food trade). Furthermore, many countries highly vulnerable to emergencies and responses to several types of disasters, such as tsunamis and earthquakes, do not feature in this literature.

The authors also find that the majority of identified systematic reviews in this area are of low quality, but high- and medium-quality reviews are available for food, cash and other in-kind transfers, nutrition interventions and water security interventions – even some of the most recent systematic reviews do not include the most recent impact evaluations. This highlights the need for updated and living synthesis projects to ensure stakeholders working in this area have available to them the most up-to-date knowledge and information.

The findings from this EGM provide a basis for policymakers to consult rigorous evidence in the formulation of programming. Researchers are able to use the findings to understand where gaps in evidence currently exist with the opportunity to ensure future work contributes to filling these gaps and avoids duplication.