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A Toolkit for Addressing Nutrition in Emergency Situations

The basic right to adequate food and nutrition is implicit in any emergency response and is reflected in humanitarian law. The purpose of this toolkit is to provide an easy reference tool for nutritional response during and after an emergency situation. Too often, in the high-pressure context of emergencies, key aspects of nutritional health and well-being are not adequately addressed. Poor decisions are made in the short-term, which have long-term negative impacts on the nutritional stability of the affected populations. Failure to meet the nutritional needs of populations in emergencies jeopardizes the ability to resist and fight infectious diseases. Growth and development, particularly of children and women, is disrupted resulting in increased childhood malnutrition, poor reproductive health and worsening pregnancy outcomes.

The toolkit is intended as an easy-to-use field guide that outlines the key basic interventions for nutritional support to individuals and groups during an emergency situation. In most emergencies, we focus on two key aspects: risk assessment and risk management. This toolkit focuses on risk management. What it takes to ensure that emergency needs are met with tools and approaches representing the current thinking in nutrition. The toolkit does not provide information on measuring nutritional status, rapid assessments, needs assessments, early warning or evaluating interventions.

It provides the what, why, when, and how for different nutrition interventions, including basic monitoring benchmarks and expected standards. The toolkit offers guidance and support for nutritionists and humanitarian workers to ensure that basic guidelines are followed and the basic nutritional needs of populations in emergencies are met. It is not intended to be an exhaustive resource for each intervention presented, but rather an overview for interventions to be considered with references and links to more detailed technical guidance for each issue.
While every attempt has been made to ensure the material in this toolkit is current, the field is rapidly changing. We look to the users of the toolkit to provide feedback on its contents as well as references to new materials that will improve our ability to plan for and respond to emergencies.

Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
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Original Publication Date: 
14 Jun 2008
Document type: 
Handbook or Manual
Coordination hub(s): 
Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC)