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Assets for Alimentation? The Nutritional Impact of Assets-based Programming in Niger
A recent strand of aid programming aims to develop household assets by removing the stresses associated with meeting basic nutritional needs. In this study, the authors posit that such nutrition-sensitive programmes can reduce malnourishment by encouraging further investment in diet. To test this hypothesis, they analyse the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), in Niger, a conflict-affected, low-income country with entrenched food insecurity. Under the PRRO, a household falls into one of three groups at end line: receiving no assistance, receiving nutrition-specific assistance, or receiving nutrition-specific assistance and nutrition-sensitive food for assets-based programming. If provided alone, food aid has no nutritional impact relative to receiving no assistance. However, the study observes pronounced positive effects if food aid is paired with assets-based programming. The authors conclude, first, that certain forms of food aid function well in complex, insecure environments; second, that assets-based programmes deliver positive nutritional spillovers; and, third, that there are theoretical grounds to believe that assets-based nutrition-sensitive programmes interact positively with nutrition-specific programming.