A new partnership has been awarded £7.2m from the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for a groundbreaking five-year research initiative, Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA). The aim of IMMANA is to accelerate the development of a robust scientific evidence base needed to guide changes in global agriculture to feed the world’s population projected to hit nine billion by 2050 in a way that is both healthy and sustainable. The IMMANA collaboration includes leading experts in the field from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; SOAS, University of London; and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston (USA). The IMMANA partnership is brought together and coordinated by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH)
Globally, undernutrition is a cause of 3.1 million deaths per year – nearly half of all deaths in children under five - and stunts the growth of a further 165 million children. But overconsumption is equally harmful – diet related chronic diseases are rapidly on the rise even amongst the poor in developing countries. Agriculture-food systems not only provide food and nutrients, but also comprise a source of income, have effects on food prices and influence women‘s time for taking care of young children, women‘s nutrition status and their power in decision-making.
FCDO support will enable IMMANA partners to develop innovative methods and metrics, strengthen the capacity of young researchers and facilitate international collaboration to improve the quality and coherence of the evidence base required to eliminate undernutrition and reverse the rise of diet related chronic diseases. To achieve these objectives, the project will offer competitive research grants to advance new metrics and methods, research fellowships for early career scientists, and support for a global network of scholars and practitioners.
LCIRAH researchers on IMMANA's managements committee are Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala, Prof. Bhavani Shankar, and Prof. Jeff Waage.
Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition-Sensitive Development at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Principal Investigator for the IMMANA project, said: ‘Links between agriculture, food systems and nutrition are multiple and complex, and as such difficult to document. There is high demand for innovative metrics and methods to understand causes, evaluate policy and programme impacts and estimate their cost-effectiveness to guide agricultural interventions for nutrition. Existing research is limited and shows important gaps that the IMMANA project will aim to address.’