SOAS University of London

SOAS part of new £7.2m research collaboration to develop metrics for agriculture and nutrition

10 April 2014

A new partnership has received £7.2m from the Department of International Development (DFID) for a five-year research project developing scientific evidence to underpin effective policies and investments in agriculture for improved nutrition and health.


Thailand street market
Thailand street market, credit Barbara Wieland

‘Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA)’ is a project brought together and coordinated by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), part of the London International Development Centre (LIDC). The partners involved are SOAS, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, USA.

SOAS experts Professor Bhavani Shankar, Professor of International Agriculture, Food and Health, and Professor Jeff Waage, Director of London International Development Centre, will provide strategic support and oversight.

The scholars are part of the project’s Management Committee responsible for strategy, resource allocation, financial oversight and work planning. Professor Shankar will be involved in designing research grant calls and fellowship terms of reference and Professor Waage will support the coordination of northern and southern institutions.

The research project will engage with the research community to stimulate development of innovative methodological approaches and novel metrics; train young researchers in developing and applying cutting-edge methods; and strengthen international interdisciplinary research collaborations for evidence-based policy making and programme design.

To deliver these objectives, the project will include competitive research grants for developing new interdisciplinary metrics and methods, research fellowships to support early career scientists and a global research network serving as a platform for exchanging ideas and learning.

Dr Suneetha Kadiyala, Principal Investigator for the IMMANA project, LSHTM, 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 assess causal mechanisms, evaluate policy and programme impacts and estimate their cost-effectiveness to guide agricultural interventions for nutrition. However, existing research is limited and shows important gaps that the IMMANA project will aim to address.  Through IMMANA, we will create and disseminate innovative metrics and methods, train early career scientists and establish a vibrant community of practice on metrics and methods development and uptake.”