The focus of this research is on programs and policies to improve the diet quality, nutritional status, and health of mothers, infants, and young children in impoverished environments. The action-oriented research focuses on intervening to improve nutrition during the “window of opportunity”—the 1000 days from conception to when the child reaches 24 months of age—and on preventing, rather than treating, childhood undernutrition, as well as analyzing patterns and trends in undernutrition to inform program and policy design. The research is carried out in partnership with program implementers, with a strong focus on monitoring and evaluation using well-defined program theory frameworks. A key emphasis of the work is to generate knowledge on what works and what does not work to improve nutrition, and how to bring nutrition-focused programs to scale.
Current work includes research on scaling-up direct nutrition interventions (“nutrition specific”) and on integrating nutrition goals and interventions in large-scale, multisectoral (nutrition sensitive) programs; these include programs in the health sectors such as food assisted maternal and child health and nutrition programs, and other community-based health programs that focus on behavior change and the delivery of health and nutrition inputs; social protection programs such as cash or food transfers that include nutrition objectives and interventions (see also research programs on social protection and policies, institutions and markets); and agriculture-based programs such as homestead food production systems or nutrition sensitive value chain programs that aim at improving maternal and child nutrition. The research conducted under this program evaluates the impact and cost-effectiveness of this broad range of multisectoral programs in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Senegal, Uganda, Vietnam.