Dear Members,

Just to share our thoughts and experience on the topic – mainly in West Africa where we are working:

The need to rigorously evaluate nutrition-sensitive social protection programs is pressing not only to accumulate evidence concerning the impact and cost-effectiveness of such programs but also for learning  i.e. to improve the design of future programs and to uncover impact pathways (i.e. to better understand what factors contribute to an impact). These learning aspects should be an integral part of any evaluation as they are essential for the successful scale up and replication of programs. Donors and program implementers should also be more aware that a meaningful impact evaluation implies its conception at the onset of a program and an interest in impact beyond primary indicators.

We are collaborating with IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) on a large applied research program aiming to evaluate and strengthen social transfer programs which objective is to improve food and nutrition security in West Africa (see the one-pager concept note). We are using experimental or quasi-experimental methods, including randomized design and valid comparison groups where appropriate; we also use mixed methods (a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection) to document if, why and how the impact is achieved (or not).

Impact and process evaluation of three cash transfer programs are underway in Mali and Togo: 

  1. SNACK (Santé Nutritionnelle à Assise Communautaire à Kayes) project (WFP)
  2. Jigiséméjiri (Malian Government and the World Bank)
  3. Pilot cash transfer project in Kara and Savanes regions, north Togo (Togolese government, Unicef, World Bank)

Results are not available yet (endline survey to be conducted in 2016 and 2017) but we will certainly share these when the time comes. We do hope that our work will contribute to provide the evidence needed for rational choices concerning social transfer program design(s) adapted to specific contexts and to motivate governments to integrate such interventions into comprehensive national social protection policies.

Dr Mathilde Savy, on behalf of IRD/IFPRI teams