The primary focus of this research program is to evaluate appropriate intervention design and implementation in order to increase the welfare of poor households. Last year IFPRI conducted an independent evaluation of Brazil’s Bolsa Familia conditional cash transfer program and came up with some optimistic findings. Bolsa Familia provides financial assistance to approximately 12.6 million poor families in Brazil by giving modest grants to mothers in exchange for their commitment to improve the health and education of their children. The study showed that because of the program participating families were better off in 2009 than they were in 2005. Households receiving payments from Bolsa Familia were more likely to have infants immunized on schedule, children attend school more frequently and progress from one grade to the next, and mothers make more prenatal visits to a healthcare professional.
After a decade, IFPRI’s Pathways from Poverty program—which used longitudinal surveys in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, the Philippines, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to determine which poverty and nutrition interventions foster improvements and which interventions impede them—began to draw to a close. New analyses of data from the Guatemala study continued to strengthen the evidence base regarding the long-term economic, health, and education benefits of investing in early child nutrition. The Nutrition Strategy of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) draws heavily on this work.
IFPRI and other partners facilitated the Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum, hosted in Dhaka by the Government of Bangladesh, to discuss high-priority areas for research and investment related to food security. The Forum, inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, covered topics such as agricultural growth and climate change; development of the fishery and livestock sectors; marketing and global/regional trade; social safety nets; nutrition; gender issues; and governance. While challenged by extreme poverty and malnutrition—roughly 40 percent of Bangladeshi children do not have the nutrition they need to lead healthy lives—the country has also tripled its annual rice production in only three decades. This and similar successes, coupled with government and stakeholder commitment to human development and agricultural progress, offer hope for continued success in the future. IFPRI will continue to provide evidence-based knowledge support to policymakers on food policy issues through the Bangladesh Policy Research and Strategy Support Program.