The Influence of Market Support Interventions on Household Food Security: An evidence synthesis

from Tufts University, Oxfam
Published on 31 Mar 2017 View Original


There is growing consensus on the need to consider and support markets as part of humanitarian responses. It is assumed that this support will increase the impact of responses – yet to date such assumptions are rarely supported by data and strong evidence.

This evidence synthesis, commissioned by the Humanitarian Evidence Programme1 and carried out by a team of independent and multidisciplinary consultants, represents the first ever attempt to identify, synthesize and evaluate the existing evidence on the influence of market support interventions on household food security in humanitarian crises. It aims to:

  • verify the quality of existing evidence

  • help researchers identify the strengths and weaknesses in such evidence, and thus recognize potential improvements and opportunities for future research

  • assist practitioners and policy makers in evaluating the impact of choices and investments based on the evidence, and assessment of this evidence.

Definitions and scope

Market support interventions are activities that support existing market systems to improve the situation of crisis-affected populations. They are a form of market-based programming.

This synthesis looks at market support interventions targeting market actors, service or infrastructure providers that sell or buy products and services that are ultimately available to consumers.

It sets out to compare and analyse evidence of the impacts of such interventions to reduce negative coping mechanisms and improve the food security of crisis-affected populations in humanitarian settings.

Food security ‘exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life’ (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006, p. 1).

The primary research question is: What is the influence of market support interventions on household food security in humanitarian crises?

The focus on food security enabled a deeper understanding of the available findings and subsequently more pertinent, focused and detailed analysis. Furthermore, there is more experience of market support interventions in the food security sector.

The evidence synthesis process entailed the following steps.

  • Developing a rigorous, peer-reviewed protocol for the synthesis methodology aligned with a published guidance note for evidence synthesis in the humanitarian field (Krystalli and Ott, 2015).

  • Comprehensive screening of existing research and documentation as per the defined protocol.

  • Selecting those studies that met the minimum quality criteria set out in the protocol for detailed analysis.

  • Analysing the strength of these studies and their findings.