Nutrition in Africa’s drylands: a conceptual framework for addressing acute malnutrition

The UNICEF conceptual framework of the causes of malnutrition has been widely adopted across both development and humanitarian spheres. However, there are key elements of the framework that require urgent re-emphasis and updating. There are also significant gaps in the framework itself related to the systemic drivers of acute malnutrition. These gaps limit the framework’s power to correctly discern the drivers of acute malnutrition, and until we update the framework, the impact of interventions will remain severely blunted.

This brief reviews and updates the generally accepted conceptual framework of drivers of acute malnutrition in Africa’s drylands, where emergency levels of global acute malnutrition stubbornly persist. The revised framework preserves the immediate and underlying drivers of acute malnutrition and recognizes the synergism between them. More fundamentally, the updating reconceptualizes the basic more systemic drivers of acute malnutrition to include three interlinked areas: i. environment and seasonality; ii. systems and institutions; and iii. livelihood systems.

The brief argues that for this analysis to make a real difference, the process and ownership of causal analysis needs to be localized by integrating it within the systems and institutions operating at the local level upwards.

While this report is specifically about Africa’s drylands, 43% of the globe is classified as drylands and therefore may be relevant in other contexts.

La version française du rapport est disponible ici.

ASSOCIATED PROJECT

SUBJECTS

PUBLICATION TYPE

LOCATION

RELATED PUBLICATIONS

Thumbnail image of report cover

This study examines how anticipatory action was perceived and experienced among Ethiopians living with drought alongside other crises.

Thumbnail image of cover

This learning brief explores the continuity and changes to livelihoods in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties, Kenya, and reviews the implications of the continuity and the changes on the drivers of child acute malnutrition.

Thumbnail image of cover

This learning brief presents preliminary findings on strategic mobility and its nutritional benefits to pastoral and agropastoral communities in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties, Kenya.

Thumbnail image of brief

This learning brief presents preliminary findings about the cause (drivers) of persistently high rates of child acute malnutrition in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties.

Thumbnail of Report "Do Famine Declarations Really Lead to Increased Funding?

This policy brief examines the relationship between famine declarations and funding since 2011. It shows that, with that one exception, there is little evidence that famine declarations actually result in a rapid increase in funding.

Image of Brief Cover: Actingin in Advance of Flooding

In 2022 UN OCHA led a pilot anticipatory action intervention in South Sudan. This brief presents UN actors’ perceptions of this intervention.

Load more