Community-level interventions for improving access to food in low- and middle-income countries

Added August 13, 2020

Citation: Durao S, Visser ME, Ramokolo V, et al. Community-level interventions for improving access to food in low- and middle-income countries. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD011504. 

What is this? Many people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are not able to access nutritious food, and this might have many repercussions on health, putting them at risk of more negative clinical outcomes if diagnosed with COVID-19 disease.

In this Cochrane review, the authors searched for studies investigating the effects of community-level interventions aimed at improving access to nutritious food on people, households and communities in LMICs. They did not restrict their search by language of publication but restricted their searches to studies published between 1980 and September 2019 and did the final search in February 2020. They included 59 studies, including 36 randomized controlled trials and 23 prospective controlled studies, mostly from Africa or Latin America. They also identified an additional 39 studies, which are awaiting assessment.

What was found: Unconditional cash transfers improve food security, may increase dietary diversity and reduce stunting; but have little or no impact on child cognitive development.

Conditional cash transfers probably slightly improve cognitive function in children and slightly increase dietary diversity but make little to no difference in the proportion of household expenditure on food and may also make little or no difference to stunting or wasting.

Income generation strategies probably make little or no difference to stunting or wasting. They may make little or no difference to food security and might improve dietary diversity in children though not for households.

Food vouchers probably reduce stunting, may slightly improve dietary diversity and may result in little to no difference in wasting.

Food and nutrition subsidies may improve dietary diversity among school children, but their effects on household expenditure on healthy foods as a proportion of total expenditure on food are uncertain.

Social support interventions (e.g., community grants) probably make little to no difference to wasting or stunting.


Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the coronavirus (COVID-19) but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the basis of this summary alone.