I would like to follow up to Ellen’s post regarding the study on Bangladesh.
Social protection programs, if designed and implemented properly, can have significant impacts on food and nutrition security, agricultural productivity and rural development. Synergy between agriculture and social protection is considered necessary for reducing rural poverty and vulnerability.
As mentioned in the Bangladesh case, the Transfer Modality Research Initiative (TMRI), a joint effort between WFP, IFPRI and the Government of Bangladesh, showed that all social transfers’ modalities (food and cash) caused meaningful improvements in nearly all measures of consumption (i.e. expenditure on food and nonfood consumption, calorie intake, and diet quality). However, inclusion of nutrition behavior change communication (BCC) along with the transfers determined considerably larger improvements than transfer alone. In particular, cash transfers + nutrition BCC had a larger impact on diet quality (in terms of food consumption score) and was the only modality to significantly reduce child stunting. Moreover, nutrition BCC also had a positive impact on women empowerment and social status.
These outcomes provide useful lessons for policy attention and information on how to make the best use of social protection programmes to improve nutrition. The "Monitoring Report 2015 of the National Food Policy Plan of Action and the Country Investment Plan for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition" considered the results of the study particularly relevant for the implementation of the recent National Social Protection Strategy and recommended to use them to identify the types of social protection interventions to be implemented at country level.
I trust the meeting in Moscow will help in drawing up further evidence on the best social protection programmes and implementation modalities to improve food security and nutrition of the vulnerable populations for whom it is most intended.
Lalita Bhattacharjee, PhD
Nutritionist and Officer in Charge, Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge –MUCH
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations