The primary objective is to reduce the incidence of malnutrition, especially within low-income groups. For this purpose it is considered important to assist countries develop their capacity to determine the types, causes and incidence of malnutrition, and formulate programs to remedy these deficiencies, as well as to monitor and evaluate the impact and the more lasting effects of such measures.

The Bank believes that the nutritional status of the population should be taken into account in defining food policies and in agricultural and rural development programs. It is recommended that countries establish nutrition policies based on quantitative evaluation of needs in terms of food production types and levels; define specific goals with regard to the desired levels of national food production and food imports; adopt measures to stimulate food production and distribution at reasonable cost and generally acceptable standards of quality and safety; and give particular attention to those segments of the population most adversely affected by malnutrition (expectant and recent mothers and children under the age of 5). Part of such policy may need to include action programs for groups within the society that lack the means of acquiring the essential components of a minimum diet, even at reasonable prices.

With the frame work of these general concepts, the specific objectives are:

  • To assist countries, and where pertinent in projects, in identifying nutrition problems and the causes thereof, and in taking the proper actions needed to solve them, including the mobilization of resources to identify, prepare and implement projects and programs to reduce malnutrition.
  • To encourage the introduction of nutritional considerations in those types of projects where it would be particularly appropriate as a complementary or associated element of the project or program, i.e. agriculture, health care, education, integrated development, fishery and food-related industry, etc.
  • To foster the development and adaptation, transfer and use of suitable technology to improve food and relieve malnutrition problems.
  • To strengthen and support national and international institutions operating in the nutrition sector and promote regional cooperation, particularly in aspects of manufacture and marketing of low-priced food supplements.
  • To support projects designed to determine the socioeconomic feasibility of production and marketing techniques for non-traditional processed food stuffs that make sufficient use of locally produced raw materials.

In the treatment of this subject, while it is recognized that low income is an important factor contributing to malnutrition among disadvantaged population groups, the general problems of improved income levels and employment are not included in this policy.

Fields of Activity

The Bank favors the financing of projects for direct improvement of the nutritional levels of disadvantaged population groups. Within this central orientation, the following examples are eligible:

1. projects featuring technological or socioeconomic research and training in new methods for production, preservation and distribution of food products, particularly low-priced, mass-produced items;

2. projects for production, preservation and distribution of basic and processed low-cost food items consisting, insofar as possible of local raw materials, that can be used in public programs or marketed commercially; this includes fortification of generally consumed basic foods, development of new food products with high nutritional content, and reduction of losses that affect food products at all stages of the marketing and distribution channel;

3. projects that support development and implementation of public programs designed to:

a) distribute food to disadvantaged population groups (school breakfasts, special prenatal and postpartum diets for mothers, food for the elderly, etc.);

b) change dietary habits and introduce new foods into the family diet through utilization of the mass media;

c) supply nutritional education through rural extension services, schools, adult education and mass communication systems;

d) train technical and other types of personnel to carry out nutrition programs; and

e) establish facilities for proper storage and preservation of essential foods and disseminate knowledge of food preservation technology.

4. Projects to strengthen institutions concerned with nutritional research, the definition of policies and implementation of programs in nutrition and those for the development and adaptation of food technology. As a means for determining the positive or negative effects on human nutrition of agriculture, fishery, marketing, education, health care and industry projects, it is important to help establish and improve information systems and develop the capacity to conduct basic studies for nutrition policy formation and applied research.

In considering operations to be carried out in various activity sectors, wherever particularly appropriate, the Bank may cooperate with countries to introduce nutrition components, especially in integrated urban and rural development, agriculture, agro-industry, fishery, public health and education projects. Where there is apparent reason for concern, the Bank may recommend that countries give special consideration to possible adverse nutritional consequences that may result from projects and programs in various sectors and seek measure to correct them.

To support national efforts to define nutrition policies, investment programs, plans and projects, the Bank may, at the request of the countries, authorize adequate technical cooperation resources. In using such resources, preference will be given to activities that contribute to publicizing an awareness and understanding of nutritional problems, institutionalization of action programs, formulation of preinvestment and investment projects, staff training, and conducting of research, the results of which are vital for programming in the field of nutrition and food.

Evaluation Criteria

  • In addition to the general criteria, the following specific criteria will be used for evaluation of nutrition projects:

  • Reduction and prevention of malnutrition in vulnerable low-income sectors, particularly among expectant and recent mothers and children under the age of 5;

  • project impact on the correction of nutritional deficiencies; and

  • intensive utilization of local raw materials and of suitable technology optimizing the use thereof.

  • Projects should also include systems for the evaluation of results, thus facilitating timely improvement of administrative and execution practices.


Prevailing Reference Document:
GP-93-3, September 1980,
GP-93-A, February 1980.

* The operational policies of the Inter-American Development Bank are intended to provide operational guidance to staff in assisting the Bank's borrowing member countries. Over the course of the Bank's more than 40 years of operations, the approach to developing operational policies has taken various forms, ranging from the preparation of detailed guidelines to broad statements of principle and intent. Many policies have not been updated since they were originally issued, and a few reflect emphases and approaches of earlier years which have been superseded by specific mandates of the Bank's Governors, the most recent being the Eighth Replenishment mandates of 1994.

In accordance with the Bank's information disclosure policy, the Bank is making all of its operational policies available to the public through the Public Information Center. Users please note that the Bank's operational policies are under a process of continuous review. This review process includes preparation of best practice papers summarizing experience at the Bank and other similar institutions, and sector strategy papers.