What is REFINE?

REFINE was established in 2012 as an outcome of the Food Aid Quality Review. REFINE is a knowledge-sharing mechanism that aims to improve the effectiveness of food-supported interventions in emergency and non-emergency contexts. REFINE's ultimate goal is to improve the nutrition or health status of vulnerable populations worldwide.

REFINE catalogs the research activity surrounding food-supported interventions by: 

  • Following and documenting ongoing studies relevant to food aid policy and programming
  • Collecting policy publications and empirical literature 
  • Defining research gaps

Overall, REFINE helps answer the question: “What does the evidence tell us are the best food aid products, programs, and processes to improve nutrition and health?" REFINE is not an advisory service and does not respond to individual queries about study design or new product development. 

Food-supported interventions are interventions that:

  • use food aid products
  • use foods that have been nutritionally enhanced 
  • study specific ingredients that are intended for use in food aid 
  1. Facilitate information and resource sharing on innovations and research relevant to food-supported interventions that support better nutrition outcomes.
    REFINE is a repository of ongoing research, published studies and other key documents relating to food-supported interventions. It categorizes information by searchable priority themes. The aim is to stimulate dialogue and forge linkages among relevant research initiatives. 
  2. Encourage necessary research and help coordinate where appropriate.  
    A large number of researchable questions exist at a time when demand for evidence-based practice is growing. The need for greater rigor and innovation in research design is widely recognized. REFINE facilitates greater transparency in food aid research, promotes interaction among researchers working in this field, and helps to promptly disseminate research results.
  3. Help facilitate discussion and presentation of findings.
    The REFINE platform serves as an active portal for sharing information on research designs, protocols, preliminary findings/working papers, and final publications. Periodic meetings of stakeholders may be convened to further collaborate on research proposals, discussion of analyses, or policy advocacy. 
  4. Promote a focus for future research investments.
    REFINE highlights priority knowledge gaps in the food aid research literature and encourages study designs and analytical approaches that generate data and results that are both high-caliber and have operational relevance. 

REFINE tracks ongoing studies and collects relevant publications based on the following criteria:

  • Nutrition Condition of the Study Population: no restrictions
  • Interventions:  A suitable intervention asks, “Does this intervention employ or investigate a nutritionally-enhanced food aid product or an ingredient intended for use in a nutritionally-enhanced food aid product in order to prevent or treat the potential causes or outcomes of undernutrition?” 
    • These include, but are not limited to: fortified rice, MNP used in conjunction or in comparison to a food supplement, Fe or Zn if added to a food or porridge, different chemical formulations of iron, and more. 
    • These exclude biofortified crops.
  • Outcome Measures: Eligible studies report outcome measures including cognitive abilities, developmental measures, birth weight, head circumference, weight gain, height gain, weight-for-age, weight-for-age z-score, height-for-age, heights-for-age z-score, weight-for-height/length, weight-for-height/length z-score, mid-upper arm circumference, lean body mass, “recovery” from malnutrition (as defined by the study investigators), mortality, default from the program, nutritional intake, cognitive abilities, and product acceptability.
    • Studies investigating the intergenerational effects of an intervention are considered if outcomes measures include designated outcomes for either the immediate participants or their offspring.

Click here to view the Search Criteria

The REFINE Resource Review is a collection of materials that displays research related to food aid products and malnutrition. It is a quarterly report of resources that have been identified and added to the REFINE library and published studies.

Resource Reviews

July - December 2019

January - March 2020

April - June 2020

July - September 2020

October- December 2020

January - March 2021