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Enhancing Nutrition: A New Tool for Ex-Ante Comparison of Commodity-based Vouchers and Food Transfers

2013 — By Ryckembusch, D. et al

Traditionally, programs with nutrition objectives have relied on in kind (or direct) food transfers. More recently, both cash and vouchers have been increasingly used in a wide variety of food assistance programs. While having additional options in terms of transfer modality is certainly an advantage, policy makers require decision making tools to guide their modality selection.

This paper contributes to the debate on optimal choice of transfer modalities. However, it does not consider all of those possible modalities, nor does it elaborate on the full range of objectives that those transfers can potentially pursue. More specifically, the paper focuses on the optimal choice between two modalities (direct food transfers and commodity-based food vouchers) in the context of programs with specific nutritional objectives, ensuring in particular access to the full range of essential nutrients by closing nutrient access gaps through food assistance programming.

While not considering cash transfers and programmatic objectives other than nutrition, the paper draws on the broader issues and challenges that shape decision-making on transfer selection and concludes with a discussion of the opportunities and limitations of applying the proposed tool to other transfer modalities such as cash transfers or value-based vouchers