David Backer and Paul Huth of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) are leading a University of Maryland (UMD) team that has been awarded a $1.2 million four-year grant for the project Modelling Early Risk Indicators to Anticipate Malnutrition (MERIAM). The sponsor is the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). UMD is receiving a subaward from the nonprofit organization Action Against Hunger (ACF), as part of a total project budget of over $3.7 million.


The aims of the MERIAM project are to develop, test and scale up cost-effective means to improve the prediction and monitoring of undernutrition in difficult contexts, in such a way that it enables an effective response to manage and mitigate nutritional risk. The approach developed by the MERIAM team will result in techniques and tools suited to strengthen early warning systems.  Achieving these goals entails (1) forecasting circumstances susceptible to an increased risk of undernutrition, (2) identifying the key drivers of that risk, (3) generating scenarios that demonstrate how the timing and type of services provided may affect the impact of a shock on communities, and (4) considering the implications of responses for expected outcomes. A focus will be isolating leading indicators of undernutrition, leveraging a variety of existing, accessible, granular data to capture causal factors and model dynamic variation in contexts where projections are urgently required.


The project personnel at UMD include researchers from the Department of Geographical Sciences and the Center for International Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), in addition to CIDCM.  Other partners on the project include the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Switzerland) and Johns Hopkins University.


A project page hosted by Action Against Hunger can be found on https://www.actionagainsthunger.org/meriam