Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture & Livelihoods

Our research aims to better understand how agriculture strategies, interventions, and investments can be “tweaked” to also include improvements in dietary and nutrition outcomes of populations living in rural areas. By using large-scale development investments in the agriculture sector, our work tethers itself onto what is already being implemented and scaled in countries looking to grow their agriculture sector, and through operations research, testing what works to improve nutrition and diets, while ensuring livelihoods are not undermined. Initial work focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Nutritional Impacts of Irrigated Horticulture in the Sahel: Leveraging a Randomized Controlled Trial in Senegal

Principal Investigator: Jessica Fanzo

Co-investigators: Drs. Ram Fishman, George Washington University and Shauna Downs, Johns Hopkins University

Irrigated horticultural production at scale can be a powerful vehicle for income generation in Sub-Saharan Africa, and evidence is emerging about the pathways through which intensification of horticultural production affects nutrition outcomes. This study will provide rigorous new evidence on these impacts, their pathways, and their gender dependence, both on their own and when complemented with nutrition education interventions. We will leverage a large, funded, randomized controlled trial that evaluates the impact of the PAPSEN-TIPA project, which works with groups of smallholder farmers, mostly women, in Senegal. PAPSEN-TIPA disseminates improved horticultural technologies and equipment based on both past and recent agricultural research – including adaptations of drip irrigation technologies co-developed by ICRISAT and complementary vegetable seeds and cultivation practices. Changes in horticultural production, income, labor and time use (associated with water delivery to plots) are expected to be dramatic, and we will utilize this opportunity to examine the nutrition impacts of these changes. We will also evaluate the complementarities of the project’s agricultural interventions with nutrition education. Heterogeneity, by gender, of decisions on crop choices, consumption and sales, and nutrition outcomes, will be examined.