Nutritional Impact Assessment Tool

Date of Design: 
USAID Infant & Young Child Nutrition Project
Contact Institution: 
Pathway Component: 
Agricultural Income, Caring Capacity & Practices, Diet, Female Energy Expenditure, Food Access, Food Expenditure, Food Production


Brief Description: The Nutritional Impact Assessment Tool was developed for project designers to use during the design phase of agricultural projects. The tool operationalizes a process for considering the nutritional and food security impacts of proposed activities on nutritionally vulnerable and food-insecure groups, and helps designers to develop alternative sets of activities. The assessment cannot be completed until project goals, objectives, and specific activities are agreed upon, at least in preliminary form. 

Uses: This tool is intended to strengthen the design and increase the nutrition focus of agricultural interventions. The tool is guided by the three principles: 1) achieving food security; 2) maximizing impact; and 3) avoiding harm. 

Tool Components: The tool contains nine steps, and is accompanied by a document that explains how to complete them: 

  • Step 1: List project objectives and activities
  • Step 2: Define food-insecure population groups
  • Step 3: Determine the nutritional status of nutritionally vulnerable groups
  • Step 4: Create alternative approaches
  • Step 5: Estimate expected outcomes
  • Step 6: Modify the approach as needed
  • Step 7: Assess alternative approaches
  • Step 8: Design a mitigation plan
  • Step 9: Develop a review plan


Number of Staff Required: Specific number not specified. An ideal approach is to convene a 1-day workshop for the design team to complete Steps 1-7 and achieve consensus on the main elements of the mitigation plan (Step 8). Design team members should have expertise in nutrition, health, and gender, with a livelihoods specialist if possible. 

Time: Completing the assessment requires significant data-gathering. After obtaining the data, Steps 1-8 can be completed in 1-2 days. Once the assessment and mitigation plans are complete, a formal review process is required. Time for this review will depend on the speed of reviewers and extent of required modifications. 

Cost of Assessment: Not specified. The assessment relies on analysis of secondary data, so total cost will be largely dependent on the salaries of staff involved. 

Training: As noted, it is expected that the design team will include a variety of technical experts. As such, the guide does not specify required training and provides sufficient explanation to complete the assessment tool. 

Geographic Targeting: Each project will define the geography. All data used in the assessment should be disaggregated to a level that is meaningful for the specific project area.

Type of Data Collection: This assessment relies on secondary data including anthropometric data, calorie intake, dietary diversity scores, and vitamin A and iron status. 

Degree of Technical Difficulty: It is expected that staff involved will already have specific technical expertise. Obtaining appropriate data is often the most difficult step of the assessment. Once the data is obtained, the staff should be capable of using the guide to complete the assessment. 

Complements other Resources:  This assessment relies on secondary data, such as FEWS NET, FAO, or WFP food security assessments; living standards and measurements surveys; NGO food security and nutrition assessments; demographic and health surveys; and multiple indicator cluster surveys. 

This summary is part of a larger resource called the Context Assessment Tool Locator.