Research & Innovation

Action Against Hunger’s research and innovation work focuses on the prevention, treatment, and drivers of undernutrition. Our portfolio is diverse - in 2019 alone, we contributed to 46 active research and innovation projects across 25 countries, in collaboration with 58 partners and with funding support from 21 different institutional donors.

Read our 2019 Research Review

Our approach to research marries science with pragmatism – providing us with the nuts and bolts required to create tangible change, even in the most difficult contexts. Our initiatives, which are intentionally and explicitly fit-for-purpose, are designed to achieve the standard of evidence necessary for action on critical issues, while abiding by fundamentally strict ‘do no harm’ principles.

To accomplish this goal, we:

  • Advance the evidence base to link research with concrete operational impact;
  • Provide empirically based, data-driven analysis and recommendations;
  • Prioritize partnerships that are profoundly collaborative in nature; and,
  • Identify clear, culturally appropriate and sustainable pathways to scale successful solutions.

Action Against Hunger’s dedicated research and innovation team designs and develops these activities across the organization. Our experts lead a variety of activities, including operational research, impact evaluations, proof of concept pilots, and costing studies, to support the integration of evidence within our practices, policies, and programs.

Read our Research & Innovation Capacity Statement

Innovate with us! 

We continually seek to build partnerships with organizations interested in joining us in the fight against childhood malnutrition. If your organization is interested in partnering with us for research & innovation, please reach out to our research team with your ideas

Individuals interested in working as part of our research & innovation team can view available job opportunities here.


Three main workstreams guide our activities, ensuring synergy across all our sectors of intervention: prevention of undernutrition, treatment of undernutrition, and identifying & anticipating nutritional risk. 

Preventing Undernutrition

In Ethiopia, a man uses hydroponics to grow fodder for his livestock.

Photo: Lys Arango
for Action Against Hunger,

Challenges remain in understanding the best methods to prevent undernutrition, which can vary across different communities and contexts. Our research seeks to better address the underlying causes and drivers of undernutrition, ultimately working to increase resilience and optimize decision-making. This workstream includes:

The Research on Food Assistance for Nutritional Impact (REFANI) program evaluated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of cash-based initiatives in the prevention of acute malnutrition in Pakistan, Niger, and Somalia.

Other research & innovation projects focused on prevention of undernutrition include the Evaluation of Multi-annual and Seasonal Cash Transfers to Prevent Acute Malnutrition (MAM’Out) project.

Treating Undernutrition

A child receives treatment for acute malnutrition at one of Action Against Hunger's health centers.

Photo: Christophe Da Silva
for Action Against Hunger,
Central African Republic

Fewer than one in four acutely malnourished children currently have access to lifesaving treatment. Our research generates evidence to identify innovative ways to detect acute malnutrition, increase availability and accessibility of quality treatment services, and improve health and nutrition information systems. This workstream includes:

The Identifying the Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Relapse After Recovery from Severe Acute Malnutrition study aims to better understand relapse after treatment for severe acute malnutrition in South Sudan, Somalia, Chad and Mali.

The Innovations in Management of Acute Malnutrition in the Context of COVID-19 project capitalizes upon a unique opportunity to learn from programmatic adaptations during the pandemic and generate evidence that may prove useful in ongoing efforts to improve detection and treatment protocols.

The Combined Protocol for Acute Malnutrition Study (ComPAS) aimed to examine whether a simplified and unified acute malnutrition treatment protocol would improve coverage, quality, continuity of care and cost-effectiveness in Kenya and South Sudan.

The Implementation Research on Linking the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition and Integrated Community Case Management study evaluated the incorporation of acute malnutrition treatment into existing community-based health services to determine if treatment could effectively be implemented by community health workers in Kenya.

The Evaluating the Effectiveness of Safe Drinking Water in Severe Acute Malnutrition Treatment study investigated whether adding safe drinking water during treatment for severe acute malnutrition reduced treatment time, increased recovery rates, and improved the cost-effectiveness of the treatment program in Pakistan.

Other research projects focused on treatment of undernutrition include the C-Project, the Modelling an Alternative Nutrition Protocol Generalizable to Outpatient Care (MANGO) study,  the Effectiveness, Cost-Effectiveness and Coverage of Severe Acute Malnutrition Treatment Delivered by Community Health Workers in Study, and the Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial for the Effect of Combining Household Water Treatment and Hygiene Promotion with Standard Outpatient Treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition on Recovery Rates (TISA).

Research to Identify & Anticipate Nutritional Risk

At a mother-to-mother group, a volunteer shows how parents can detect malnutrition in their children by measuring their mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC).

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

Our research seeks to identify the drivers of undernutrition and predict increases in nutritional risk – ultimately ensuring that decision-makers have timely, evidence-based information on acute malnutrition that allows them to act ahead of a crisis, rather than during or after its peak. This workstream includes:

The Modelling Early Risk Indicators to Anticipate Malnutrition (MERIAM) project aims to improve the prediction and monitoring of acute malnutrition through econometric and computational modelling, with a focus on conflict- and climate-related shocks in Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia. 

The Click-MUAC project sought to develop and test new devices to detect acute malnutrition, in order to increase the sensitivity and specificity of these measurements when used by mothers and caregivers.

The Constraints and Complexities of Information and Analysis in Emergencies project examined the technical and political obstacles of producing an independent food insecurity analysis tool in Nigeria.

The Towards Anticipatory Information Systems and Action project explored the linkages between current status information, forecasts, and early warning, in order to identify avenues to improve early action in East Africa.

Other research & innovation projects focused on the identification and anticipation of nutritional risk include the SAM Photo Diagnosis App® project.

Action Against Hunger is leading a global movement to end hunger in our lifetimes. It innovates solutions, advocates for change, and reaches 26 million people every year with proven hunger prevention and treatment programs. As a nonprofit that works across 50 countries, its 8,300 dedicated staff members partner with communities to address the root causes of hunger, including climate change, conflict, inequity, and emergencies. It strives to create a world free from hunger, for everyone, for good.