IFPRI Hosts Policy Seminar on “Social Protection, Food Security and Nutrition” in New Delhi

Written by Suman Chakrabarti, Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division, International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), organized a policy seminar on “Social Protection & Safety Net

Source: Pallavi Rajkhowa/IFPRI
Source: Pallavi Rajkhowa/IFPRI

Interventions” in the month of February in New Delhi. The seminar touched on the role of food and cash transfers in improving poverty, food security and nutrition, in global and regional contexts. All speakers were well received by the audience and the seminar was lively with an array of wide ranging questions and discussions.

The first speaker, John Hoddinott, Deputy Director at the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division – IFPRI , Washington,  DC, pooled insights from recent studies in Ecuador, Niger, Uganda and Yemen, on social protection programs and their nutrition outcomes. He highlighted the relative advantages and drawbacks of cash, voucher and food transfers in terms of cost effectiveness, achievement of caloric intake increase and impact sufficiency to reduce chronic under-nutrition in young children. In addition, he shared very recent findings on the impact of combining behavioural change interventions with cash transfers in Bangladesh.

The second speaker, Avinash Kishore, Associate Research Fellow, IFPRI, New Delhi, shared insights from a working paper that investigates the impact of reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS) of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, on the offtake of rice from fair price shops as well as on the reallocation of savings towards other food groups.  These findings are central in the context of India’s National Food Security Act (NFSA) which was enacted in 2013.  The NFSA lays out very similar PDS reforms in terms of price reductions for key cereals and increase in the population covered, accompanied with supply side corrections, as were enforced in the aforementioned states.

The third and final speaker, Reetika Khera, Assistant Professor, Economics, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, discussed her research on shifts in India’s PDS. She discussed various facets of interest within the PDS including coverage, leakage, implicit subsidies, exclusion errors, and nutritional impacts, among others.  The findings indicate an overall revival of the PDS in India albeit with high interstate variations. She concluded that there was a long way to go for improvements in the PDS, and emphasized that key reforms should focus on an expansion in the implicit subsidy given to households, incentives, computerization, and decentralization.

Issues and questions raised in the discussion period included:
- What is better in India’s context, cash or food? A balanced approach would be a contextualized response, where cash could be better for some regions and food for others.
- What might be the possible measures to control leakages in the PDS? Mechanisms to check leakages might be easier to enforce under a cash transfer paradigm with the use of IT.
-Targeting versus universalization of the PDS: Given the large targeting errors for AAYs, BPLs, and APLs, would a universalized PDS prove to be more effective?
- What is the role of the private sector in grain management? Can the private sector distribute grains more efficiently and cost effectively?
- What are the effects of transfers on households? How do they re-allocate savings from subsidies? What are the effects on women’s empowerment?

Presentation 1-Social safety nets, food security and nutrition

Presenation 2-Revival of the PDS Evidence and Explanations

POSHAN New Policy Note Explores Lessons Learned in Working Multisectorally to Improve Nutrition Globally and India

Photo Credit Aishwarya Pillai
Photo Credit Aishwarya Pillai

It is recognized that eliminating undernutrition requires actions across multiple sectors.  A child must receive food with adequate energy, protein, and micronutrients while at the same time having access to safe water, good sanitation, and quality health care.  However, services that need to be delivered are typically not led by the same sector, agency, or actor.  The agricultural sector, for example, focuses mostly on food production. The health sector usually focuses on clinical care, rather than on care and feeding in the home.

Though it is recognized that working multisectorally is critical to ensuring that adequate food, health, and care reach children, it isn’t always clear how to do so and it is rarely easy. With an aim of garnering lessons learned that could inform India’s policymakers and program implementers, POSHAN commissioned a review of global and Indian experience in improving nutrition through multiple sectors. The new Policy Note Working Multisectorally to Improve Nutrition: Global Lessons and Current Status (Please see below the paper)  in India examines best practices from other countries, including Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Senegal, and Thailand, as well as the status of current multisectoral initiatives in India in nutrition, which include the Multisectoral Nutrition Programme to Address Maternal and Child Undernutrition, which was conceived in 2008 by the Prime Minister’s National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges and launched in 2014. The paper features recommendations to ensure better implementation and sustainability of multisectoral approaches in India.

Last year in May 2013, POSHAN had organized a consultation on multisectoral approaches to improve maternal and child nutrition in India and had brought together key policymakers and policy advisers from a variety of ministries at the national level and from the Indian states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. This event highlighted lessons and experiences from other countries and from India.

Download the POSHAN Policy Note Working Multisectorally to Improve Nutrition Globally and India.pdf (661 Kb)

Submission Guidelines and Form: Implementation Abstract

Implementation Abstract Submission Guidelines and Form

Background on Abstract Themes

POSHAN_Transform_Nutrition_5You are invited to submit abstracts of your work to be presented at the conference by April 25, 2014. To gather experiences and lessons on how different sectors are working together on nutrition in India and how this could be improved, we invite implementers to submit implementation abstracts on their experience working across sectors to achieve impact on nutrition. Examples of implementation abstracts could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Different sectors coming together to develop nutrition policy. This topic area may include abstracts highlighting the impetus for a multisectoral policy development, how nutrition professionals collaborated with traditionally non-health or non-nutrition sectors (e.g., education, social services, labor, transportation, etc.) to develop policies to address food and nutrition-related issues. We encourage submissions in this category on national- and state-level policy and program development.
  • Different sectors coming together to implement nutrition interventions at the state, district, block, or village levels.  This may include examples of how a multisectoral program or project was developed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated. Abstracts should include discussions of the necessary structures and conditions, the challenges that were encountered and how these were addressed, and critical success factors and potential for scalability.

Submissions are also being accepted for Research Abstracts. Abstract submissions which do not clearly fall under Research or Implementation topic areas of interest, but are relevant to the theme of the event, will still be considered.

Abstract Submission and Review Process

Abstracts must be submitted by Friday April 25, 2014,at 5pm IST.

A review committee from POSHAN and Transform Nutrition will select 10–12 of the submitted abstracts to be featured as written case studies and oral presentations at the conference. The committee will review these based on 1) relevance to the event theme, 2) practical application, and 3) clarity and completeness of abstract.

The committee will also select an additional 20–25 abstracts to be presented as posters. Abstracts chosen for presentation at the conference or for poster will be notified by email by May 30, 2014.

Selected Abstracts

If your abstract is accepted as a case study, a team of writers from POSHAN and Transform Nutrition will work with you between June-August, 2014 to develop a 4-page case study that will be printed and distributed at the conference. The team will also be available to assist you in preparing a related slide presentation on the case that you will present at the conference.

For those abstracts selected as posters, guidelines will be provided to you on what to include on these.

Questions? We would love to hear from you. Send us an email at IFPRI-POSHAN@cgiar.org

POSHAN’s Abstract Digest on Maternal and Child Nutrition Research – Issue 6

Aaganwadi centre (Photographer Aishwarya Pillai)
Aaganwadi centre (Photographer Aishwarya Pillai)

As we wrap up 2013, we are pleased to release the sixth issue of our bi-monthly Abstract Digest on maternal and child nutrition, the last issue for this year. This issue features interesting publications examining nutrition from both a biological and political lens, in India and beyond.

An India-based study in The Lancet highlights regional differences in neonatal and under-five mortality; the study highlights how several districts are on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 as early as 2015, while several others may not achieve it until 2023.

A BioMed Central Public Health study examines whether high parity is associated with lower coverage of key health interventions that might lead to increased mortality. The study identifies a significant relationship between coverage of maternal and child health services and birth order, offering a potential explanation for the association between higher parity and child mortality.

Using birth cohorts from 5 countries, a study from the Journal of Pediatrics examines the relationship between maternal height and child growth, concluding the strongest associations with conditional heights for adulthood and 2 years of age. The study confirms that maternal height influences linear growth of children over the growing period.

Of two studies focusing on the political context of maternal health in India, one, featured in Science Direct, uses evidence from two South Indian states to identify three key factors that shape health policy and its implementation: consistent political priorities, policy entrepreneurship, and strong public health system administration.

Thank you for your interest in the POSHAN Abstract Digest. Please feel free to share this digest with others, and engage in discussions with us on our Facebook page! We wish you and your families a very happy new year and we look forward to sharing highlights of maternal and child nutrition publications in 2014.

Click here to download the latest issue:

POSHAN Abstract Digest Issue#6DEC2013

For earlier issues, please visit our blog.


Updating India’s Plan for Achieving Sustainable Nutrition Security

File photo (a newborn being weighed): Photographer-Aishwarya Pillai
File photo (a newborn being weighed): Photographer-Aishwarya Pillai

In light of new evidence, the 2010 Leadership Agenda for Action (LAA), a documented plan for achieving sustainable nutrition security in India, is being updated to reflect recent scientific findings and to include strategies for scaling up successful programs.

The Coalition for Sustainable Nutrition Security in India, a group of nutritionists, policy and program leaders, and other experts, met on November 15, 2013 in New Delhi for the First Task Force Meeting.  The meeting had two objectives:

  1. Review and seek consensus on a) the list of the Leadership Agenda for Action(LAA) Essential Interventions (the “what”) based on the  online discussion recommendations, available new evidence, and additional suggestions made by task force members and b) the list of the suggested actions for each intervention (the “how’).
  2. Discuss and decide on other issues:

a)   How to organize the paper and LAA revision process and timeline
b)   How to address the conflict of interest (COI)

Highlights of the discussion:
Key recommendations of the online discussion (organized from Oct 16-18, 2013) were shared between the task force members. The online discussion covered wide range of topics in the areas of environmental health, maternal mental health, nutrition in emergencies, urban nutrition strategy, nutrition education, complementary feeding among others. For details please see attached online discussion summary for more details on these topics.

  • The task force discussed the “conflict of interest” issue which was highlighted during the online discussion of LAA.  It was suggested to refer the WHO COI guidelines and adapt the same for LAA Task Force. The Nutrition Coalition Secretariat will share the WHO COI with all task force members for review.
  • The task force members decided to review the essential interventions using a matrix that was agreed upon by all the members. The group could not complete reviewing all essential interventions and decided to complete through an online discussion before the next task force meeting.
  • The India Health Report prepared by Public Health Foundation of India need to be referred by the task force to keep a synergy between the Leadership Agenda for Action and India Health Report.
  • The second task force meeting will review all essential interventions and will focus on suggested actions for each intervention (the “how’). The second meeting will be held on December 17, 2013.

For further information, please contact the Nutrition Coalition Secretariat in the following email id: l.palo@savethechildren.in

Leadership Agenda for Action Summary of online discussion below:

LAA 2013 online discussion summary

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