Announcing the Launch of REFANI Research Initiative

Academic and Humanitarian Aid Organizations Launch Research Project, REFANI, to Measure Impact of Cash Transfers on Child Undernutrition

A recent study estimated that 32 out of 134 countries have an acute malnutrition prevalence of 10% or more, a burden commonly recognized by UNICEF as a “public health emergency requiring immediate intervention.” Globally, this represents a total of 33 million children who suffer from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and a further 17 million who suffer severe acute malnutrition (SAM).  This distinction is critical because compared to non-acutely malnourished children, MAM and SAM children have a three and nine times greater risk of dying, respectively. 

The Research on Food Assistance for Nutritional Impact (REFANI) project will measure the effectiveness of cash-based programs to prevent acute malnutrition. Through a series of three country studies in Pakistan, Niger and Somalia, the REFANI consortium will create high quality research that fills gaps in the evidence base, and will make this research available to both technical and non-technical audiences, with results to be delivered in early 2017. The project is a partnership between Action Against Hunger, Concern Worldwide, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and the University College London.

Given the scope of acute malnutrition and the lack of observed effectiveness among traditional humanitarian interventions, such as general food distributions or supplementary feeding programs, there is an increasing trend towards using complementary or alternative approaches for preventing acute malnutrition. One such intervention is a cash transfer program, where vulnerable households who have children at risk of undernutrition receive cash or vouchers. Cash transfers are made as direct cash payments or bank transfers, while vouchers can be exchanged for goods or services within local markets. However, despite the shift from traditional food interventions to cash, there is still limited information on how effective these cash transfer programs are in improving nutritional outcomes among children and other vulnerable groups. 

Given the gaps in research (see REFANI literature review), the project’s main research questions aim to examine the relationship between cash transfers and changes to the nutritional status of children in humanitarian crisis settings. REFANI is funded by UK Aid from the UK government, and co-financed though humanitarian aid from the European Commission. To receive updates and learn more about the project, please visit the REFANI website, or email


Action Against Hunger saves the lives of severely malnourished children while helping communities become self-sufficient. Recognized as a world leader in the fight against malnutrition, Action Against Hunger has pursued its vision of a world without hunger for over three decades, combating hunger in emergency situations of conflict, natural disaster, and chronic food insecurity. With more than 6,500 staff in over 45 countries, our innovative programs in nutrition, food security and livelihoods, and water, sanitation, and hygiene reach more than thirteen million people each year, restoring self-sufficiency to vulnerable populations throughout the world. For more information, visit us online, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


Concern Worldwide is a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization dedicated to the reduction of suffering and the elimination of extreme poverty in 28 of the world’s poorest countries. We currently support longer term development programmes, emergency response and integrated resilience-building programmes in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Concern views undernutrition as both a cause and consequence of extreme poverty, thus the promotion of child and maternal nutrition is central to its organisational mission. In addition to REFANI, Concern is engaged in a number of research projects, including impact evaluations of an integrated programme to reduce stunting in Zambia (with the International Food Research Institute);  an integrated resilience programme in Chad (with Tufts University); and an adapted Graduation Model in Rwanda and Burundi (with the International Development Institute).  Concern has supported emergency cash transfers in Niger, Kenya, Somalia and DR-Congo. Concern also supports a broad profile of programmes in health and nutrition, WASH, livelihoods and education. In addition to Concern’s headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, Concern has offices in New York, London and Belfast. For more information, visit Concern online, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


The ENN is a UK registered charity that enables networking and learning to build the evidence base for nutrition and related programming. The ENN focuses on communities in crisis and countries where the burden of malnutrition is high. Its work is guided by what practitioners need to work effectively. The ENN captures and exchanges experiences of practitioners through our publications and online forum, Instigate or undertake research and reviews where the evidence is lacking, broker high level technical discussions where agreement is needed and support global level leadership and stewardship. For more information, visit the ENN online, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


UCL is ranked fifth in the world's top ten universities by the QS World University Rankings (2014/15), with academic and research staff dedicated to research and teaching of the highest standards. The UCL Institute for Global Health (IGH) is an interdisciplinary collaboration of leading academics working on health and development in a global context. Its current programmes aim to promote the health, nutrition and welfare of children and their families in developing countries. For more information, visit UCL online, on Facebook, or on Twitter

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