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

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

This project undertakes a process to review and update the generally accepted conceptual framework. We explore these updates through a variety of forums.

This brief describes the rationale for revisiting the UNICEF malnutrition causal framework and explains the steps in taking the original framework forward. It describes two specific areas of the original framework that must be addressed: 1. the synergism between immediate and underlying causes, and 2. clarifying or digging deeper and making more explicit the role of formal and informal institutions within the context of wider systems.

It is for discussion and we welcome feedback. Please contact the author, Helen Young.