Knowledge for Nutrition (K4N) – achieving food and nutrition security

Project description

Title: Knowledge for Nutrition (K4N)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union (EU)
Country: global
Lead executing agency: BMZ, EC
Overall term: 2019 to 2024


The global community faces the major challenge of ending all forms of malnutrition (undernutrition and overnutrition as well as micronutrient deficiencies) in the spirit of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in particular SDG 2. Despite significant progress, numbers of people suffering from hunger have been rising again since 2015. At the same time, 1.6 billion people experience overnutrition (overweight, obesity). Both under- and overnutrition are usually accompanied by a lack of micronutrients, such as iron or vitamin A. This affects around two billion people in the world. Most countries experience at least two different forms of malnutrition – known as the double burden of malnutrition. 

Large sections of the world’s population also lack the basic prerequisites for utilising food in an adequate way (basic hygiene, clean drinking water and primary health care). 

Malnutrition presents major challenges for the international community. For many years, the focus of global food and nutrition security was on providing enough food; over the past few years greater emphasis has been placed on nutritional problems in the sense of combating all forms of malnutrition. 

Sufficient and good quality food is a human right, for which SDG 2 of the 2030 Agenda provides a global reference framework. During Germany’s G7 Presidency in 2015, the G7 states committed to lift 500 million people out of hunger and undernutrition by 2030. The EC has also set itself the goal of reducing the number of children suffering from chronic undernutrition by at least seven million by 2025. What’s more, it plans to provide 3.5 billion euros to improve the nutrition situation in developing countries. 

The international community has recognised the need for globally coordinated action. The complexity of the issue makes it difficult to derive approaches and strategies from the evidence available and to use these strategies and approaches to design recommendations to improve the effectiveness of programmes and policies. The Knowledge for Nutrition (K4N) programme focuses primarily on the issue of how programmes and policies of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the EC can build further on the foundation of effective approaches and evidence-based strategies.


Nutrition-related programmes and policies of BMZ and the EC are increasingly founded on evidence-based approaches and strategies for which the required capacities are available.


As policy-makers for German and European development cooperation, BMZ and the EC are at the centre of advice and capacity development services. The EC cofinances the programme.

There are two key areas of action for the programme. Area of action 1 works predominantly on improving the effectiveness of nutrition-related programmes and policies and is primarily aligned with the requirements of BMZ. Evidence-based statements regarding the effectiveness of such programmes and policies are identified with the aim of deriving policy and programme recommendations. The assessments collected are also used to continue developing standards in order to generate results-related statements.

Area of action 2 addresses capacity development and the provision of advice on food security. Under the title Capacity for Nutrition (C4N), the EC, the EU delegations and their partner institutions are advised on the effectiveness of programmes and policies in the nutrition field. The necessary capacities are also promoted and the programme provides expert advice on the subject of nutrition. 

Additional information