Features of an enabling environment

What are the features of an enabling environment for nutrition?

What are the key preconditions and drivers, how do they vary by context, and what difference do they make? These are the questions we seek to answer. The rationale and methodology for the research under this sub-theme is explained here:

a) What is an enabling environment?

This theme will outline the evidence on the political economy of nutrition and begin to fill the identified gaps. Very little is known about how development, policy, and civil society communities can create an enabling political and institutional environment at international, country and regional levels to support undernutrition reduction.

The Transform Nutrition evidence review which summarised the literature on the wider institutional, governance and political factors behind successful nutrition interventions was published in the Lancet 2013 Maternal and Child Nutrition Series as Paper 4 – The politics of reducing malnutrition: building commitment and accelerating progress Stuart Gillespie,* Lawrence Haddad,* Venkatesh Mannar, Purnima Menon, Nicholas Nisbett, and the Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group. Further evidence and analysis from the enabling environments evidence review which were not included in the Lancet Series Paper 4 have been synthesized in a paper published in World Development.

Another study has built on the econometric analysis of nutrition and Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data sets undertaken by researchers such as Smith-Haddad (2000) and Headey (2011) to identify where governance variables drive nutrition outcomes.Lawrence Haddad and Lisa Smith’s econometric analysis on past drivers in underlying and basic determinants looking at indicators over the past 25 years has been published as an IDS Working Paper Reducing Child Undernutrition: Past Drivers and Priorities for the Post-MDG Era and is also being revised for World Development. They find that safe water and sanitation, women’s education and empowerment, and the quantity and quality of food available in countries have been key drivers of past reductions in stunting. Uniquely the research shows how both income growth and governance played essential facilitating roles.

These outputs complete this study. New Transform Nutrition-generated thinking about enabling environments has been incorporated into the Transform Nutrition summer school, and also a similar short course developed for senior country managers of World Food Programme on nutrition advocacy, leadership and health systems.

b) What are the drivers of an enabling environment?

  • Extend Analyzing Nutrition Governance work to Kenya

This study will undertake a political economy and governance analysis of nutrition by extending the Analysing Nutrition Governance (ANG) framework to a  review of horizontal and vertical governance structures in Kenya, based on stakeholder interviews. This study,

This study has been completed and the report is being prepared for publication.and will complement existing ANG studies in the other three Transform focus countries.

  • Prospective policy analysis in Bangladesh and Ethiopia

This study will undertake policy analysis under the existing Alive & Thrive project in Bangladesh and Ethiopia to consider wider policy processes for nutrition, especially infant and young child feeding, between 2010 and 2014. This study, due to be completed by 2016, is being led by Purnima Menon, Noora-Lisa Aberman, and Jody Harris of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

c) Understanding the local development, institutional, political and community drivers of nutrition

This study will mix quantitative and qualitative methods to identify the bright spots in nutrition implementation in India and the local institutional, socio-cultural and political factors driving this success. Districts with very positive and very negative results in tackling undernutrition will be identified and analyzed via econometric regressions of governance and conflict variables. The district level development indicators will be supplemented with survey data from the India Hunger and Malnutrition (HUNGaMA) conducted across 112 rural districts of India. Ethnographic work at the community level will explore the particular local environment for nutrition implementation and the synergies and disconnects among state level policy, village or household level micro-politics, and nutrition implementation. This study, due to be completed by 2015, is being led by Purnima Menon, Suneetha Kadiyala, and Shruthi Cyriac of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Lawrence Haddad, Jose Gallegos and Inka Barnett of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

October 2014 update - The IFPRI team are currently supplementing India HUNGaMA survey data with district level development indicators, governance variables and econometric analysis. The two IDS PhDs focusing on frontline worker capacity and community / micro-political contexts have completed their literature reviews and research designs and are now undertaking research in the field.