SUN Newsletter
Home / News / Transforming food and social protection systems to better protect the most vulnerable

Transforming food and social protection systems to better protect the most vulnerable

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network
© UNICEF/Soares

Winning the race to end malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 requires transforming health, food, and social protection systems to deliver better health, nutrition, and diets. Structural and systemic changes in food systems are needed to deliver better health, nutrition, and diets. To achieve this aim at global and country-level, it will be critical to increase current public expenditures and improve investment policies with the support of all sectors and multiple-stakeholders, acknowledging countries’ unique contexts.

It is in this context that a webinar was held in December 2020 on “Non-affordability of healthy, nutritious diets – transforming food and social protection systems to better protect the most vulnerable”. This webinar, co-organized by the SUN Movement Secretariat and the World Food Programme (WFP) – Systems Analysis for Nutrition team (responsible for conducting the Fill the Nutrient Gap (FNG) situation analyses aimed at discussing the required changes in food systems linking them with national social protection systems for improved access to affordable healthy diets, especially for the most vulnerable populations. The SUN Focal Points of Timor Leste and Somalia presented the work related to Food Systems and nutrition-sensitive Social Protection that is being conducted in their respective countries.

The challenge: healthy diets are not affordable for many

Recent analyses emphasize that healthy diets are unaffordable for more than 3 billion people (the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report 2020). The high cost and unaffordability of healthy diets are associated with increased food insecurity and different forms of malnutrition. The cost drivers of these diets are found throughout the food supply chain, within the food environment, and in the political economy that shapes trade, public expenditure, and investment policies. Tackling these cost drivers will require massive transformations in food systems with no one-size-fits-all solution and with different trade-offs and synergies for each country.

Somalia National Coordinator SUN

“In Somali, the high costs of a nutritious diet are prohibitively expensive for most of the population. Pastoralists and fisheries have the highest cost of a nutritious diet across all livelihoods. Pastoralists are highly dependent on markets for their staple food and face highest prices. When staples are expensive, livestock is cheap, putting stress on pastoralists’ household income sources” Dr. Mohamed Abdul Farah, Office of the Prime Minister, Somalia National Coordinator SUN

With the food price and expenditure sources identified for the FNG analyses, combined with a structured review of secondary information about the food system, it is possible to take a snapshot of the situation in a country and get a good understanding of systemic issues and vulnerabilities that constrain people’s access to a healthy, nutritious diet.

Timor Leste

‘’Government’s responses to COVID 19 have included short- and long-term types of interventions. In the short term: Establishment of a universal cash subsidy; Introduction of food baskets for vulnerable households; Ongoing provision of existing social protection measures. For the long term: Village level social development grants and social credits for small business development; Establishment of national minimum wage; Economic stimulus and service provision via national budgets for basic education, water, and sanitation infrastructure.’’ Mr. Filipe Da Costa, Coordinator for Civil Society Affairs and Special Representative of the PM’s Office for Food Security and Nutrition

How can Social Protection systems improve access to nutritious diets?

Meaningful impact is only possible by making health, food, and social protection systems work better for nutrition and prioritizing evidence-informed actions for enhanced nutrition investments. Rebuilding the food systems and establishing a more vital link with social protection programs to protect the most vulnerable will also enable SUN countries to “build back and forward better” from COVID-19. Food systems are all-encompassing – we are all a part of it, and we must all come together to make this change happen.

The 2021 Nutrition for Growth (N4G) and UN Food Systems Summits aim to re-set the global trajectory on nutrition and food systems and accelerate progress towards achieving the 2025 World Health Assembly (WHA) targets and the SDGs by 2030. These unprecedented opportunities to recommit to nutrition will bring diverse sets of stakeholders together to identify the new and more powerful ways to ensure good nutrition for all. This includes impactful and scalable approaches to mainstream nutrition in national food and social protection systems, and to make these more robust and equitable in varying contexts. It is only by connecting many stakeholders – from youth activists to indigenous leaders, smallholder farmers to scientists and CEOs – that we can concretely improve access to healthy, nutritious diets and ultimately drive progress on all the SDGs. In anticipation to these Summits, the FNG is helping build momentum by bringing together stakeholders from multiple sectors to identify country-specific priorities for evidence-based action that can sustainably transform local food systems for nutrition and also ensure access to nutritious foods for the poorest through deliberately creating linkages with social protection systems.

Background information and materials linked to the webinar


Morning recording found here
(Access Passcode: =e$4Eu1T)

• Presentations – Read here 

• Timor Leste Presentation – Read here 

Concept note – Read here


Afternoon recording found here
(Access Passcode: X5c&L8bj)

• Presentation – Read here

• Somalia – Dr Farah’s Presentation – Read here

Further information on the FNG analyses

The WFP’s FNG analyses a country’s nutrition situation and identifies vulnerable populations’ barriers (availability, physical access, affordability and choice) to healthy, nutritious diets. The FNG highlights likely nutrient gaps and identifies barriers to adequate nutrient intake in a specific context for specific target groups. It aims to support multisectoral decision-making on the prevention of malnutrition. One component of the FNG assessment is the Cost of the Diet analysis, which estimates the lowest cost and affordability of a diet that meets all nutrient needs from locally available foods. FNG analyses have been, or are being, conducted in 35 countries and WFP will play a critical role for the Nutrition for Growth and the Food Systems Summit.

Further information can be found below on FNG reports for Somalia and Timor Leste, WFP relevant blogpost, briefs on FNG and social protection:

Somalia’s FNG report

Timor Leste’s FNG report

A video on the ‘Fill the Nutrient Gap’ analysis

A brief on social protection

A brief on food systems in fragile settings



Post A Comment

No Comments