This program, which involves action-oriented research into policies and interventions that will improve the diet quality and nutrition of the poor, is uniquely poised to address nutrition as an integrated component of agriculture, health, and social protection, rather than just an outcome. In 2009, the research team on this program began large-scale evaluations of interventions and program platforms to improve nutrition, including agricultural development, food assistance programs, behavior change communications strategies, market-based approaches, policy advocacy, and awareness campaigns. In Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, researchers are looking at the multifaceted behavioral interventions used by the Alive and Thrive project to improve feeding practices of infants and young children. In Burundi and Guatemala, research on Preventing Malnutrition in Children Under Two Approach (PM2A) programs was initiated to compare the child growth impacts of different packages of fortified foods and products combined with behavioral interventions. In Burkina Faso and Cambodia, IFPRI researchers are assessing the role agriculture can play in improving nutrition through homestead food production.
This program addresses the critical need to prevent child undernutrition by focusing on the thousand days between conception and a child’s second birthday. Failure to improve nutrition during this window of opportunity leads to long-term, irreversible damage to intellectual and physical development and stunts economic growth.
IFPRI’s food and water safety research looks at the production and consumption of unsafe food as it affects overall food security. Researchers also evaluate cost-effective control strategies to minimize risks associated with contaminated food and water and ways to communicate information about the strategies.
Over the past three years, Indonesia—the country with the greatest number of confirmed human cases of avian flu worldwide—has successfully improved awareness of HPAI among rural households and poultry producers. Through the Pro-Poor HPAI Risk Reduction Strategies project, IFPRI and various partners have been able to help the Government of Indonesia evaluate the repercussions of HPAI on livelihoods and determine risk-management options for the poor. Knowledge of transmission modes and mitigation measures, however, still varies throughout the country; investing in well-targeted awareness campaigns is essential for control and prevention. Related research is ongoing in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Kenya.
HarvestPlus, a CGIAR program co-hosted by IFPRI and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), reduces hidden hunger by developing micronutrient-rich crops. In collaboration with the International Potato Center (CIP), IFPRI, and other partners, HarvestPlus disseminated vitamin A–rich orange sweet potato to more than 24,000 households in Mozambique and Uganda from 2007 to 2009. This project marked the first time that a biofortified crop had been released on such a large scale, and the results included a significant increase in orange sweet potato adoption by farmers and an elevated intake of vitamin A by children and women.
HarvestPlus has also been engaged in the planning and lead-up to the first Global Conference on Biofortification in order to take stock of progress, share lessons learned, and chart the future of biofortification.
Other focal areas under the Diet, Health, and Food Safety theme include: