A new integrated assessment framework for climate-smart nutrition security in sub-Saharan Africa: the integrated Future Estimator for Emissions and Diets (iFEED)

Stewart Jennings* (Corresponding Author), Andrew J. Challinor, Pete Smith, Jennie Macdiarmid, Edward Pope, Sarah Chapman, Catherine Bradshaw, Heather Clark, Sylvia Vetter, Nuala Fitton, Richard King, Sithembile Mwamakamba, Tshilidzi Madzivhandila, Ian Mashingaidze, Christian Chomba, Masiye Nawiko, Bonani Nyhodo, Ndumiso Mazibuko, Precious Yeki, Pamela KuwaliAlfred Kambwiri, Vivian Kazi, Agatha Kiama, Abel Songole, Helen Coskeran, Claire Quinn, Susan M Sallu, Andrew J Dougill, Stephen Whitfield, Bill Kunin, Nalishebo Meebelo, Andrew Jamali, Dhaquirs Kantade, Winfred Mbungu, Frank Kayula, Sue Walker, Sibongile Zimba, Joseph H Yamdeu, Ndashe P. Kapulu, Marcelo V Galdos, Samuel Eze, Hemant Tripathi Tripathi, Steven M. Sait, Stephan Kepinski, Emmanuel Likoya, Henry M Greathead, Harriet E. Smith, Marcelin T Mahop, Helen Harwatt, Maliha Muzammil, Graham Horgan, Tim Benton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Climate change will put millions more people in Africa at risk of food and nutrition insecurity by 2050. Integrated assessments of food systems tend to be limited by either heavy reliance on models or a lack of information on food and nutrition security.
Accordingly, we developed a novel integrated assessment framework that combines models with in-country knowledge and expert academic judgement to explore climate-smart and nutrition-secure food system futures: the integrated Future Estimator for Emissions and Diets (iFEED). Here, we describe iFEED and present its application in Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
The iFEED process begins with a participatory scenario workshop. In-country stakeholders identify two key drivers of food system change, and from these, four possible scenarios are defined. These scenarios provide the underlying narratives of change to the food system. Integrated modelling of climate change, food production and greenhouse gas emissions is then used to explore nutrition security and climate-smart agriculture outcomes for each scenario. Model results are summarised using calibrated statements - quantitative statements of model outcomes and our confidence in them. These include statements about the way in which different trade futures interact with climate change and domestic production in determining nutrition security at the national level.
To understand what the model results mean for food systems, the calibrated statements are expanded upon using implication statements. The implications rely on input from a wide range of academic experts – including agro-ecologists and social scientists. A series of workshops are used to incorporate in-country expertise, identifying any gaps in knowledge and summarising information for country-level recommendations. iFEED stakeholder champions help throughout by providing in-country expertise and disseminating knowledge to policy makers.
iFEED has numerous novel aspects that can be used and developed in future work. It provides information to support evidence-based decisions for a climate-smart and nutrition-secure future. In particular, iFEED: i. employs novel and inclusive reporting of model results and associated in-country food system activities, with comprehensive reporting of uncertainty; ii. includes climate change mitigation alongside adaptation measures; and iii. quantifies future population-level nutrition security, as opposed to simply assessing future production and food security implications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number868189
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Early online date22 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding statement
This work was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council through UK Research and Innovation as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, AFRICAP programme, grant number BB/P027784/1.

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of
Lauren Phillips, who was instrumental in the publicity of
iFEED, Alicia Ledo, who was involved in early modeling
discussions, Steve Besford, who helped to coordinate the
GCRF-Agricultural and Food System Resilience: Increasing
Capacity and Advising Policy (AFRICAP) project in which
iFEED was developed (see africap.info for more information),
Connor Bainbridge, who transcribed notes from the integration
workshops, Richard Rigby for technical support, Hafidh Kabanda
for his support at the Economic and Social Research Foundation,
Tanzania, and Samantha Aspinall and Simbarashe Sibanda,
who facilitated the integration workshops. The crop modeling
analysis of iFEED was undertaken on ARC3, part of the HighPerformance Computing facilities at the University of Leeds,
UK. The iFEED website (https://ifeed.leeds.ac.uk) was developed
by Chris Symonds, Centre for Environmental Modeling And
Computation (CEMAC), University of Leeds.

Data Availability Statement

Data Availability Statement
The original contributions presented in the study are included in the article/Supplementary Material, further inquiries can be directed to the corresponding author.

Supplementary Material
The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2022.868189/full#supplementary-material


  • nutrition security
  • climate-smart agriculture
  • adaptation
  • mitigation
  • climate change
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • integrated assessment
  • scenarios


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