Publications

PUBLICATIONS

by IFPRI | June 14, 2019

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Food for thought? Experimental evidence on the learning impacts of a large-scale school feeding program
Aurino, Elisabetta; Gelli, Aulo; Adamba, Clement; Osei-Akoto, Isaac; Alderman, Harold. Madison, WI Article in press

Abstract | View

There is limited experimental evidence on the effects of large-scale, government-led interventions on human capital in resource-constrained settings. We report results from a randomized trial of the government of Ghana’s school feeding. After two years, the program led to moderate average increases in math and literacy standardized scores among pupils in treatment communities, and to larger achievement gains for girls and disadvantaged children and regions. Improvements in child schooling, cognition, and nutrition constituted suggestive impact mechanisms, especially for educationally-disadvantaged groups. The program combined equitable human capital accumulation with social protection, contributing to the “learning for all” sustainable development agenda.
Understanding the pathways to women’s empowerment in Northern Ghana and the relationship with small-scale irrigation
Bryan, Elizabeth; Garner, Elisabeth. Article in press

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Women’s empowerment is often an important goal of development interventions. This paper explores local perceptions of empowerment in the Upper East Region of Ghana and the pathways through which small-scale irrigation intervention targeted to men and women farmers contributes to women’s empowerment. Using qualitative data collected with 144 farmers and traders through 28 individual interviews and 16 focus group discussions, this paper innovates a framework to integrate the linkages between small-scale irrigation and three dimensions of women’s empowerment: resources, agency, and achievements. The relationship between the components of empowerment and small-scale irrigation are placed within a larger context of social change underlying these relationships. This shows that many women face serious constraints to participating in and benefitting from small-scale irrigation, including difficulties accessing land and water and gender norms that limit women’s ability to control farm assets. Despite these constraints, many women do benefit from participating in irrigated farming activities leading to an increase in their agency and well-being achievements. For some women, these benefits are indirect—these women allocate their time to more preferred activities when the household gains access to modern irrigation technology. The result is a new approach to understanding women’s empowerment in relation to irrigation technology.
Food systems and rural wellbeing: Challenges and opportunities
Woodhill, Jim; Kishore, Avinash; Njuki, Jemimah; Jones, Kristal; Hasnain, Saher. Article in press

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The future wellbeing of billions of rural people is interconnected with transforming food systems for equity, nutrition, environmental sustainability, and resilience. This article tackles three blind spots in the understanding of rural poverty and vulnerability: the narrow focus on extreme poverty and hunger that hides a much wider set of inequalities and vulnerabilities, insufficient recognition of the diversity of rural households, and an inadequate appreciation of the impact of rapid structural changes in markets, the physical environment, and the political economic context. A better understanding of these areas is necessary for imagining a new policy landscape that can align progress on rural poverty alleviation with a wider transformation of food systems. The article provides a framework for assessing the dynamics of rural wellbeing and food systems change. It looks at the viability of small-scale farming and the diversification of livelihood options needed to overcome rural poverty and inequality. The analysis suggests that the future prosperity of rural areas will depend on policy reforms to address market failures in the food system, which currently work against equity, good nutrition and sustainability. Investments will also be needed to enable rural economies to capture greater value from the food system, particularly in the midstream of food distribution, processing and services. The likely future scale and nature of rural poverty and inequality is such that improved social protection and humanitarian relief schemes that support those in crisis or being left behind will still be essential.
Tensions and coalitions: A new trade agreement affects the policy space for nutrition in Vietnam
Harris, Jody; Hrynick, Tabitha; Thien, Mai Thi My; Huynh, Tuyen; Huynh, Phuong; Nguyen, Phuong Hong; Thow, Anne-Marie. Article in press

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Global trade has shaped food systems over centuries, but modern trade agreements are hastening these changes and making them more complex, with implications for public health and nutrition transition. This study aimed to understand the impact of the 2018 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on the policy space for public health nutrition in Vietnam. We conducted comparative document review and key informant interviews, and our analysis drew on a framework of policy space and the theory of advocacy coalitions. We identified 10 CPTPP sections with potential public health nutrition implications; and 50 Vietnamese policies relevant to nutrition having one or more tensions with one or more CPTPP sections. A majority of policy tensions were in sections of the CPTPP relating to technical barriers to trade and government procurement; most tensions related to protecting policy-making from vested interests. Different groups of policy actors hold different beliefs and interests on these issues, and therefore promote different framings and policy approaches. We identified two advocacy coalitions working very separately on issues affecting nutrition policy space: a trade coalition holding the policy position that free trade improves nutrition by default; and a nutrition coalition holding the policy position that nutrition should be explicitly considered in trade policy. The policy space for nutrition in Vietnam has important potential constraints through written policy, and the trade and nutrition coalitions will need to interact more regularly and constructively in order to foresee where these tensions will arise in practice, and create plans for their mitigation. This study adds to global evidence of free trade agreement impacts on nutrition policy space, and we extend previous work by explaining these actor groupings in the policy space through the theory of advocacy coalitions.
Seasonality and day-to-day variability of dietary diversity: Longitudinal study of pregnant women enrolled in a randomized controlled efficacy trial in rural Burkina Faso
Hanley-Cook, Giles T.; Argaw, Alemayehu; de Kok, Brenda; Toe, Laeticia Celine; Dailey-Chwalibóg, Trenton; Huybregts, Lieven. Article in press

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Background: Panel data indicates that non-pregnant women's dietary diversity fluctuates across climatic seasons in low- and middle income countries. The natural day-to-day variability in food group consumption during gestation is unknown.
Objective: A longitudinal study was conducted, among pregnant women enrolled in the MISAME-III randomized controlled efficacy trial [i.e., daily fortified balanced energy-protein supplement and iron-folic acid (IFA) tablet vs IFA tablet only], to investigate the number of 24-h recalls required to estimate usual prenatal food group (FG) diversity and the seasonality of pregnant women's dietary diversity in Houndé, Burkina Faso.
Methods: FG consumption was assessed twice weekly by qualitative list-based 24-h recalls among 1,757 pregnant women (892 control, 865 intervention). The number of days needed to estimate a women's usual prenatal 10-point FG diversity score was calculated using the within-subject coefficient of variation. Regression models, including truncated Fourier series, were fitted to assess seasonal variations in the FG diversity score and the probability of reaching Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W; i.e., ≥5 FGs).
Results: The monthly mean FG scores (<5 FGs) and MDD-W prevalence (<45%) were low. Five list-based recalls allowed observed FG diversity to lie within 15% of the true mean in 90% of the estimations (mean ± SD: 40.4 ± 20.7 recalls per woman). Both the FG diversity score and prevalence achieving MDD-W showed responsiveness to seasonal variations with peaks at the end of the dry season (i.e., April/May) and troughs in the rainy season (i.e., August). Conclusions: Five list-based recalls are sufficient to estimate usual FG diversity during gestation; although intra-annual seasonal patterns did modestly affect FG diversity score and MDD-W prevalence. Thus, timing of repeated dietary surveys is critical to ensure non-biased inferences of change and trends in Burkina Faso.
COVID-19 and global poverty and food security
Vos, Rob; McDermott, John; Swinnen, Johan. Article in press

Social assistance programme impacts on women's and children's diets and nutritional status
Olney, Deanna K.; Gelli, Aulo; Kumar, Neha; Alderman, Harold; Go, Ara; Raza, Ahmed. Article in press

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Investments in social assistance programmes (SAPs) have accelerated alongside interest in using SAPs to improve health and nutrition outcomes. However, evidence of how design features within and across programme types influence the effectiveness of SAPs for improving diet and nutrition outcomes among women and children is limited. To address this, we reviewed evaluations of cash, in-kind and voucher programmes conducted between 2010 and 2020 among women and children, and examined associations between design features (targeting, including household and individual transfers, fortified foods and behaviour change communication) and positive impacts on diet (diet diversity, micronutrient intake) and nutrition (anthropometric indicators, haemoglobin, anaemia) outcomes. Our review has several key findings. First, SAPs improve dietary diversity and intake of micronutrient-rich foods among women and children, as well as improve several nutrition outcomes. Second, SAPs were more likely to impact diet and nutrition outcomes among women compared with children (23/45 [51%] vs. 52/144 [36%] of outcomes measured). Third, in-kind (all but one of which included fortified foods) compared with cash transfer programmes were more likely to significantly increase women's body mass index and children's weight-for-height/length Z-score, and both women's and children's haemoglobin and anaemia. However, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of SAPs for improving micronutrient status and preventing increased prevalence of overweight and obesity for all populations and for improving diet and nutrition outcomes among men, adolescents and the elderly. Further research in these areas is urgently needed to optimize impact of SAPs on diet and nutrition outcomes as countries increase investments in SAPs.
Storytelling for persuasion: Insights from community health workers on how they engage family members to improve adoption of recommended maternal nutrition and breastfeeding behaviours in rural Bangladesh
Grandner, Gargi Wable; Rasmussen, Kathleen M.; Dickin, Katerine L.; Menon, Purnima; Yeh, Tiffany; Hoddinott, John F.. Article in press

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Community health workers (CHWs) increasingly provide interpersonal counselling to childbearing women and their families to improve adoption of recommended maternal and child nutrition behaviours. Little is known about CHWs' first-hand experiences garnering family support for improving maternal nutrition and breastfeeding practices in low-resource settings. Using focused ethnography, we drew insights from the strategies that CHWs used to persuade influential family members to support recommendations on maternal diet, rest and breastfeeding in a behaviour change communication trial in rural Bangladesh. We interviewed 35 CHWs providing at-home interpersonal counselling to pregnant women and their families in seven ‘Alive & Thrive’ intervention sites. In-depth probing focused on how CHWs addressed lack of family support. Thematic coding based on Fisher's narrative paradigm revealed strategic use of three rhetorical principles by CHWs: ethos (credibility), pathos (emotion) and logos (logic). CHWs reported selectively targeting pregnant women, husbands and mothers-in-law based on their influence on behavioural adoption. Key motivators to support recommended behaviours were improved foetal growth and child intelligence. Improved maternal health was the least motivating outcome, even among mothers. Logically coherent messaging resonated well with husbands, while empathetic counselling was additionally required for mothers. Mothers-in-law were most intransigent, but were persuaded via emotional appeals. Persuasion on maternal rest was most effort-intensive, resulting in contextually appealing but scientifically inaccurate messaging. Our study demonstrates that CHWs can offer important insights on context-relevant, feasible strategies to improve family support and uptake of nutrition recommendations. It also identifies the need for focused CHW training and monitoring to address scientifically flawed counselling narratives.
Measuring women's empowerment: Gender and time-use agency in Benin, Malawi and Nigeria
Eissler, Sarah; Heckert, Jessica; Myers, Emily; Seymour, Greg; Sinharoy, Sheela; Yount, Kathryn. Article in press

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Time use, or how women and men allocate their time, is an important element of empowerment processes. To extend this area of study, this article proposes and explores the concept of time-use agency, which shifts the focus from the amount of time individuals spend on activities to the strategic choices they make about how to allocate their time. It draws on 92 semi-structured interviews from three qualitative studies in Benin, Malawi and Nigeria to explore and compare the salience of time-use agency as a component of empowerment. The article finds that time-use agency is salient among women and men and dictates how they can make and act upon strategic decisions related to how they allocate their time. It also finds that time-use agency is tied to other dimensions of agency beyond decision making and ways of exerting influence in the household. Its findings highlight that women's capacity to exercise time-use agency is conditional on gendered power dynamics and other barriers within households, which together are reciprocally related to local gender norms that dictate how women should spend their time.
The ambivalent links between internal migration and food security in Uganda
Mekonnen, Daniel A.; Soma, Katrine; Ruben, Ruerd. Article in press

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This study examines the drivers for and consequences of internal migration to household food security in Uganda. Based on the Ugandan National Panel Surveys conducted between 2010/11 and 2015/16, we estimate differences in food energy adequacy of households receiving internal migrants from elsewhere. Besides food energy consumption, this study applies household food consumption score (FCS) and looks at vulnerability in terms of household’s expenditures on food. This enables to explore (a) the extent to which food insecurity is driving internal migration, and (b) whether remittances can reduce food security of the remitter. We find that households are usually worse-off when migrants join the receiving family. This seems a departure from previous studies that tend to find welfare gains to internal migration, mostly due to changes in expenditures or dietary consumption without considering any thresholds for achieving food security. Based on these findings and responding to rising youth employment challenges associated with rapidly growing urban slums in Uganda, policies that simultaneously support employment creation in both urban and rural areas are urgently needed to enable better steering of the flow of voluntary migration and to help ensuring food security.
Fortified balanced energy-protein supplementation, maternal anemia, and gestational weight gain: a randomized controlled efficacy trial among pregnant women in rural Burkina Faso
Hanley-Cook, Giles; Toe, Laeticia Celine; Tesfamariam, Kokeb; de Kok, Brenda; Argaw, Alemayehu; Compaore, Anderson; Huybregts, Lieven. Article in Press

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Background; Anemia and suboptimal gestational weight gain (GWG) are associated with adverse maternal and birth outcomes. Limited research indicates that balanced energy-protein (BEP) supplements reduce the incidence of inadequate GWG.
Objectives: We assessed the efficacy of a micronutrient fortified BEP supplement on the secondary outcomes: anemia, GWG, GWG rate, and GWG in relation to the IOM's recommendations, as compared to an iron-folic acid (IFA) tablet.
Using outcome trajectory evaluation to assess HarvestPlus’ contribution to the development of national biofortification breeding programs
Douthwaite, Boru; Johnson, Nancy L.; Wyatt, Amanda. Washington, DC 2022

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While the key role that policy plays in sustainable development has long been recognized, rigorously documenting the influence of research on policy outcomes faces conceptual, empirical and even political challenges. Addressing these challenges is increasingly urgent since improving policies—broadly defined—is at the heart of the structural transformation agenda. This paper describes the use of a new evaluation method—outcomes trajectory evaluation (OTE), based on both evaluation and policy process theory—to explore the influence of HarvestPlus, a large and complex research for development program focused on improving nutrition, on a specific policy outcome, namely the establishment of crop biofortification breeding programs in national agricultural research institutes in Bangladesh, India and Rwanda. The findings support claims of significant HarvestPlus contributions to the establishment of the programs while also raising issues that need to be monitored moving forward to ensure sustainability. The paper also discusses the pros and cons of the OTE approach in terms of both methodological rigor and program learning. In particular, the fact that HarvestPlus is a long-running program allows us to reflect on how a “backward looking” approach such as OTE builds on and complements the more “forward looking,” theory of change-based approaches that informed HarvestPlus programming and evaluation during its earlier, highly-successful phases. Such a long-run perspective is rare in development evaluation and it offers important lessons for how to think about and plan for evaluation over the course of a complex agriculture research for development program.
Livelihoods, poverty, and food insecurity in Myanmar: Survey evidence from June 2020 to December 2021
Myanmar Agriculture Policy Support Activity (MAPSA). Washington, DC 2022

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Ten rounds of the Rural-Urban Food Security Survey (RUFSS) have been conducted between June 2020 and December 2021 to assess the impacts of Myanmar’s economic, political, and health crises on various dimensions of household welfare. RUFSS interviews about 2000 mothers of young children per round from urban Yangon, the rural Dry Zone, and recent migrants from these areas.
A major food transfer program in Bangladesh fell short during the COVID-19 pandemic
Bin Khaled, Muhammad Nahian; Raghunathan, Kalyani; Rashid, Shahidur; Dearlove, Honor; Chowdhury, Shyamal. Washington, DC 2022

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Public food transfer programs serve as an important safety net for those facing hunger and food insecurity in both low- and high-income countries around the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs have become even more crucial, as food insecurity and poverty rates have soared. But lockdowns and other public health restrictions can also disrupt food distribution operations and thus limit their effectiveness.
Smarter policies for enhanced food security and food system outcomes
McDermott, John; Allison-Reumann, Laura. Washington, DC 2022

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The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized a multitude of development challenges and opportunities, some of which are new and some ongoing. The disruptions caused by the pandemic have highlighted the interconnections among almost all aspects of society, including the important linkages between food systems and other sectors that are sometimes separately governed and managed. Achieving the desired food system outcomes of health, sustainability, inclusion, resilience, and efficiency (IFPRI 2021) will require alignment and coordination with other sectors such as health, industry, and social development.
Resilience of urban value chains during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from dairy and vegetable chains in Ethiopia
Hirvonen, Kalle; Mohammed, Belay; Habte, Yetimwork; Tamru, Seneshaw; Abate, Gashaw Tadesse; Minten, Bart. Washington, DC 2022

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At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many researchers and international organizations voiced concerns about the resilience of food value chains amid lockdowns and border closures, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (Laborde et al. 2020; Reardon, Bellemare, and Zilberman 2020; Resnick 2020). This chapter explores the pandemic’s effects on dairy and vegetable value chains in Ethiopia’s capital through mid-2021. Despite early fears about the pandemic’s impacts, survey data show that these urban value chains quickly rebounded after an initial period of fragility, demonstrating resilience over the research period. Amid tremendous uncertainty and market volatility, most value chain actors also indicated that the pandemic had not negatively affected their business activities.
Impact of falling remittances amid COVID-19 on Yemen’s war-torn economy
Elsabbagh, Dalia; Kurdi, Sikandra; Wiebelt, Manfred. Washington, DC 2022

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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic battered economies across the world, Yemen had already experienced a half decade of civil war, resulting in a loss of approximately 45 percent of its real GDP by the end of 2019, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Planning. As the conflict continued, remittances from Yemenis working outside the country kept many households afloat and became an increasingly important source of income, estimated at $3.77 billion in 2019 — around 13 percent of GDP.
COVID-19 and food inflation scares
Vos, Rob; Glauber, Joseph W.; Hernandez, Manuel A.; Laborde Debucquet, David. Washington, DC 2022

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Rising food prices during 2021 caused concern worldwide. In January, international prices for major food items climbed to a level near the heights of the global food price crises of 2007–2008 and 2010–2011, according to the FAO Food Price Index. International prices declined in the first months of the pandemic, following the initial lockdown measures that were imposed to contain the pandemic, but by October 2021, prices in international markets had risen by about 30 percent over March 2020 levels. In many countries, consumer prices for food also surged, generating fear that this could lead to rising food insecurity (see, for example, Gerard 2021).
Uneven recovery and a lingering food crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic for rural safety net transfer recipients in Ethiopia
Gilligan, Daniel O.; Berhane, Guush; Hirvonen, Kalle; Kumar, Neha; Leight, Jessica. Washington, DC 2022

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In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at IFPRI and elsewhere worked quickly with their partners in government, the private sector, and survey firms to provide evidence on the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis and related restrictions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, systematic evidence on the effects of the crisis has been more limited in the ensuing months up to and after the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. Early analysis of economic models of the crisis suggested that its economic effects would be severe in the short run and greatest in Africa south of the Sahara, where the pandemic and related lockdowns were projected to depress incomes of both urban workers and rural households (Laborde, Martin, and Vos 2021). Phone surveys and rapid assessments conducted in the first weeks of the pandemic reported significant job losses in both rural and urban areas (Wieser et al. 2020), disruptions to urban food value chains (Tamru, Hirvonen, and Minten 2020), and declines in household dietary diversity in Addis Ababa (Hirvonen, de Brauw, and Abate 2021). In the time since those initial projections and rapid surveillance surveys were conducted, researchers have revisited the same samples to analyze the medium-term effects of the pandemic. In addition, they have gathered information on households at the economic margins of society and those considered to be less affected by the pandemic by virtue of their sector of employment or remote location.