Transform Nutrition & LANSA: Improving Nutrition with Regional Alliances

Transforming whole food systems for nutrition requires wide-reaching alliances of stakeholders from multiple sectors. Recognizing this, DFID funded Transform Nutrition (TN), a large consortium led by IFPRI that is producing research on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions (such as agriculture, social protection, and women’s empowerment) in specific regions around the world.

The TN consortium, a six-year project, is strengthening the evidence base for nutrition, working together with DFID, the Institute of Development Studies, and other partners. The program focuses on transforming thinking and action on undernutrition prevention, with a particular focus on the 1,000-day window from pre-pregnancy to 24 months of age in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara—the two regions with the highest burden of undernutrition.

The consortium has had noteworthy outcomes. Policy makers in Ethiopia relied on evidence from TN to redesign the national Productive Safety Net Programme, a social protection program benefiting 10 million people, to help it address nutrition more explicitly. Similarly, policy makers in Bangladesh drew on TN evidence to formulate the nutrition section of the National Five Year Plan and the 2016 National Nutrition Plan of Action. Transform Nutrition’s work was also included in the formulation of the SUN Movement’s strategy framework, USAID’s Nutrition Strategy, and the report of the High-level Panel convened by then–UK Prime Minister David Cameron that informed Sustainable Development Goal 2.2 on malnutrition.

DFID has also launched Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA), another large consortium producing research on nutrition-specific interventions in South Asia. The LANSA consortium seeks to understand how South Asian agriculture and related food policies and interventions can be designed and implemented to increase their impacts on nutrition, especially regarding the status of children and adolescent girls. LANSA is led by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, with five research partners including IFPRI, the Institute of Development Studies, and the Leverhulme Centre for Integrated Research on Agriculture and Health. It works in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.

One example of the consortium’s work: LANSA’s body of research in Bangladesh has revealed knowledge gaps and regional and seasonal discrepancies in maternal and childhood undernutrition. This evidence will be valuable for policy makers to better diagnose challenges and develop agricultural policies and interventions to improve nutrition.