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New SEEMS-Nutrition project seeks to measure costs and benefits of multi-sectoral food system interventions

The Strengthening Economic Evaluation for Multi-sectoral Strategies for Nutrition (SEEMS-Nutrition), a new three-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and directed by Dr. Carol Levin (Health Economist and Associate Professor, Global Health), aims to fill an information gap on costs, cost-effectiveness, and benefits of scaling up food system strategies in resource-constrained areas combating malnutrition.

In the spirit of multi-sectoral collaboration, the SEEMS-Nutrition project is working in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Helen Keller International (HKI), and Results for Development (R4P).  Since launching in November 2018, the team is working hard to prepare the project for success. Their findings will allow program implementers and policymakers to make informed decisions about which nutrition interventions to prioritize to address healthy food systems, dietary intake, and improved nutritional status.  Such interventions can help improve maternal and child health outcomes by promoting optimal dietary and feeding practices during critical windows of time when nutritional needs are the greatest.

Women, infants, and children need the right amount and dietary diversity of food intake to support healthy growth and development and prevent an intergenerational cycle of undernourishment.  Other factors that contribute to the proper maternal nutrition that results in thriving children are appropriate infant and young child feeding and hygiene practices, access to health services and a healthy environment and household food security.   Meeting the complex nutrition needs of women, infants and children require a multi-sectoral approach to promote improved agriculture household production, increase the market supply and demand for nutritious foods and ensure access to clean water and sanitation.  A growing number of evaluations are focusing on the impact of multi-sectoral interventions to improve nutrition and economic benefits.  The SEEMS-Nutrition project has a unique opportunity to collect cost data alongside six on-going interventions and to generate new evidence on costs and cost-effectiveness of multi-sectoral projects in five country settings.

 

Country Project Objective
Nepal Suaahara II (“Good Nutrition”) To improve women’s and children’s health and nutrition
Burkina Faso Soutenir l’Exploitation Famaliales pour Lancer l’Elevage des Volailles et Valoriser l’Economie Rurale (SELEVER) To increase poultry production and improve the nutritional status of women and children
Bangladesh Targeting and Realigning Agriculture for Improved Nutrition (TRAIN) To address the issue of undernutrition among rural women and children
Malawi Nutrition Embedded Evaluation Program Impact Evaluation (NEEPIE) To improve diet, feeding, health and hygiene knowledge/practice in households with infants and young children
Kenya MoreMilk To evaluate the potential of a market-based intervention in the informal dairy sector to generate sustainable and scalable nutrition and health benefits for children
Kenya Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Build a Marketplace for nutritious foods project to empower small enterprises to increase the supply of nutrient rich foods in local markets

Dr. Levin and Chris Kemp (UW Research Assistant and PhD Candidate in Global Health Implementation Science) joined Suaahara colleagues to meet women and children from a farming community in Nepal.

In December 2018, the team held a kick-off meeting in Washington DC to discuss a new framework for the economic evaluation of multi-sectoral nutrition programs, review work plans, and establish key deliverables and timelines.  SEEMS-Nutrition recently formed technical and policy advisory groups that bring nutrition and economic expertise on how to apply collected data into the project’s framework successfully.  Dr. Levin and colleagues also visited Nepal and Burkina Faso to learn more about the interventions’ activities and operations, and develop protocols and interview guidelines to obtain economic data.  We look forward to learning more as SEEMS-Nutrition engages with all of their collaborative partners in other countries.