Strengthening Economic Evaluation for Multisectoral Strategies (SEEMS) – Nutrition: Common Approach Guidance Document

Combating malnutrition requires a coordinated effort across sectors. While there is a growing body of evidence on what works to improve maternal and child nutrition, comparable evidence on the costs and cost-effectiveness of multisectoral nutrition strategies has been limited (Keats et al 2021, Ruel et al. 2018, Swinnen et al. 2018 and Wun et al. 2022).

Decision makers rely on available evidence to inform strategic planning, priority setting and resource allocation for multisectoral nutrition programming. The lack of reliable, robust, and comparable economic evaluation information impedes the ability of funders, policymakers and program managers to make informed decisions about which interventions to prioritize to improve nutrition outcomes and achieve nutrition-related development targets. It is crucial to close the data gap in evidence on the costs and cost-effectiveness of nutrition-sensitive interventions within multisectoral programs.

The most useful information from economic evaluations of nutrition programs will be data that is robust, data that is collected using transparent, comparable, standardized methods, and data that can directly inform decision making. The Strengthening Economic Evaluation for Multisectoral Strategies for Nutrition (SEEMS-Nutrition) consortium has developed a common approach to conduct costing studies that is integrated with program impact evaluations for multisector nutrition programs. The common approach aims to strengthen the design and implementation of economic evaluations, with a focus on context-specific operational plans, or study protocols. It utilizes a comprehensive and fully customizable set of cost data collection tools for estimating financial and economic costs.

This guidance document is a how-to guide on the common approach country that can be applied by practitioners, field researchers, evaluators, and implementors. For more on the SEEMS-Nutrition project, including applications in Malawi, Bangladesh, and Nepal (forthcoming), please see the R4D Project Page and the SEEMS-Nutrition website.

Referenced Tools

Determine the Scope of the Economic Evaluation

Describe Intervention Components

Understand Program Costs


Keats, E. C., Das, J. K., Salam, R. A., Lassi, Z. S., Imdad, A., Black, R. E., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2021). Effective interventions to address maternal and child malnutrition: an update of the evidence. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, 5(5), 367-384. 

Swinnen, Tui, Jeremy Shoham, Carmel Dolan, Charulatha Banerjee, Lillian Karanja-Odhiambo, and Ambarka Youssoufane. 2018. “Exploring multi-sector programming at district level in Senegal, Nepal and Kenya.” Field Exchange 57, Aug. 4, 2018, 21. 

Ruel, Marie T., Agnes R. Quisumbing, and Mysbah Balagamwala. 2018. “Nutrition-sensitive agriculture: What have we learned so far?” Global Food Security 17 (June 1): 128–53. 

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