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Food Security and Nutrition

We build food security by working with small-scale farmers to increase availability, utilization, and accessibility of food. We accomplish this by deploying livestock, seeds and trainings in sustainable crop production and animal management practices, and by working with communities to increase diversity and intake of foods for improved nutrition.

Improving Maternal and Infant Health

Recognizing the importance of optimal nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life, we seek to protect and promote adequate dietary intake of pregnant women, lactating mothers and children below two years of age. To address the multiple causes of malnutrition, we leverage our food production programs for critical interventions that promote women’s empowerment, access to clean and safe water, adequate hygiene and sanitation and increased utilization of public health services.

Increasing Dietary Diversity and Income

We help families increase their production and consumption of diversified diets, along with increased incomes, by providing seeds, livestock and trainings to establish integrated livestock and crop agriculture and combining this with education for better dietary intake and linking families to markets.

Nutrition Education

We promote nutrition education and raise awareness about the importance of nutrition through our 12 Cornerstones trainings.

Agriculture Value Chain Developments

We promote value chain enhancement for various agricultural commodities to improve market access by small-scale farmers.

Gender Equity and Women's Empowerment

We establish and build the capacity of women’s groups, farmers’ associations and cooperatives. Together with Heifer’s hub model, these strengthen social support networks and cooperation that enables farmers to bulk commodities and earn better prices.

Enabling Environments for Better Nutrition

We promote community mobilization by facilitating formation of self-help groups and commodity cooperatives and provide trainings to build stronger enabling environments for various social development outcomes, including nutrition. We also support evidence generation through research, impact evaluations and testing innovative approaches on nutrition sensitive agriculture. 

Case Study: The Importance of Animal Source Foods

Protein from animal-source foods plays a critical role in improving maternal and overall community health. Livestock intervention can directly increase animal production, which provides more animal products for household consumption.

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  • 11.14 Months

    of adequate household food provision – an increased median in 2016 for families in Heifer’s projects, up from 10.75 in 2015.

Milk in the Data: Food Security Impacts from a Livestock Field Experiment in Zambia

This study examines the staggered rollout of livestock distribution by Heifer International in Zambia to identify the effects of livestock ownership. Results indicate that livestock ownership improves dietary diversity, and further results indicate that expanded livestock ownership alters the local food economy to influence food consumption by households lacking farm animals.

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The Importance of Animal-Source Foods for Nutrient Sufficiency in the Developing World: The Zambia Scenario

This study analyzes the changes in the nutrient profile of diets with either staple plant-source foods or animal-source foods. The researchers found that interventions including animal-source foods are better at solving the multiple micro-nutrient deficiencies faced by many Zambians. Even marginal amounts of added milk and meat consumption has the potential to remove the risk of most nutrient deficiencies.

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Head Growth of Undernourished Children in Rural Nepal: Association with Demographics, Health and Diet

This study evaluates head circumference measurements in a population of rural Nepali children and relates these measurements to demographics, health and diet. An observational study of head growth was included within a longitudinal evaluation of Heifer International’s livestock-based agricultural intervention in rural Nepal. The study found that head circumference reflects brain size in young children and that poor head growth represents another facet of child undernutrition. The study also found that animal-source food consumption contributed to higher head circumferences in young children.

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Child Dietary Quality in Rural Nepal: Effectiveness of a Community-level Development Intervention

This study compares the dietary quality of children in rural farming communities whose families participated in Heifer International’s interventions with children in matched, non-participating communities. The study found that children from particularly vulnerable families in a region conducive to livestock production were more likely to have diverse diets and to have consumed animal-source foods.

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