Advancing Cutting-Edge Nutritional Interventions in Latin America

IFPRI's work continued to promote improved nutrition in Latin America through innovative evaluations and programs. From 2011 to 2016, IFPRI, in collaboration with Mercy Corps and with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), designed and evaluated the Programa Comunitario Materno Infantil de Diversificación Alimentaria (PROCOMIDA)—a nutrition program aimed at improving the health and nutritional status of pregnant and lactating women and children under two years old in Guatemala through food ration distribution, behavior change communication, and strengthening and promoting the use of healthcare services. IFPRI’s assessment showed that PROCOMIDA reduced stunting by 10 percentage points for children receiving nutrition interventions before the age of two.

In Peru in 2013, IFPRI piloted the cutting-edge Happy Faces program, designed to decrease micronutrient deficiencies in teens through the strategic use of cost-effective information and communications technologies (ICTs). In partnership with IDB, IFPRI used videos to educate and encourage teens to take iron supplements. Evidence from this study, forthcoming in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, proved that low-cost ICT interventions can effectively improve adolescents’ nutrition, in this case reducing anemia by 50 percent. Moreover, ICTs indirectly improved cognitive functioning and increased aspirations for upward mobility among program participants. In a related project, IFPRI found that ICTs are useful for changing the behaviors of parents too. This study assessed knowledge transfer from teens to their parents, using ICTs in agricultural production practices in rural areas of Peru. Research results, published in Agricultural Extension through Information Technologies in Schools: Do the Cobbler’s Parents Go Barefoot?, indicated that parents’ knowledge of agricultural practices increased by 26–34 percent, with 14–18 percent adopting these practices in their farms.

For more information on IFPRI's research and partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean, please go to this brochure.