The overall objective of this study is to generate a solid evidence base of Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program’s impacts on nutrition and learning outcomes.
The specific aims for this study are:
Aim 1: To develop and implement a mixed-methods research design for the collection of informative survey data and implementation of a rigorous impact evaluation, based on the USDA Learning Agenda and the conceptual framework developed in Phase I of this project.
Aim 2: To collect high-quality quantitative survey data and qualitative information on outcome and explanatory variables, building on the study sample and instruments from Phase I.
Aim 3: To use the collected data to produce evidence-based insights for Mercy Corps and external stakeholders, addressing the research questions outlined in the next section.
Aim 4: To foster mutual learning throughout this project with Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan and other selected stakeholders, with the key objective of providing recommendations for future program design, implementation and monitoring, including assessments of cost effectiveness.
In this study, we address three broad research questions around nutrition in the context of the national Food for Education and Child Nutrition (FFE) program in Kyrgyzstan. The research questions are based on USDA Learning Agenda, on our work in Phase I of this project together with Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan and other stakeholders, on statistical and practical considerations as well as on the existing academic literature and on considerations determined by the Covid-19 pandemic. The three research questions are:
What is the status of nutrition in households with primary grade children in Kyrgyzstan?
We place particular and novel emphasis on measuring and studying a) nutrition knowledge, preferences and practices among children and their caregivers and b) nutrition outcomes at home, such as dietary diversity.
What is the impact of nutrition on child health and education among children in Kyrgyzstan?
We place particular and novel emphasis on studying a) nutrition knowledge, preferences and practices among children and parents, and b) “intrapersonal foundations” of learning in the sense of children’s school participation, health and cognitive and non-cognitive skills.
What is the impact of the FFE program on nutrition as well as on health and education among children in Kyrgyzstan?
We place particular and novel emphasis on a) identifying net links, b) uncovering the causal pathways at work, distinguishing nutritional and alternative channels (e.g. incentives to attend school based on purely economic terms), c) estimating the separate and combined programmatic impacts, including those of hot meal provision and community- and family-based behavior change program components, and d) considering program externalities (e.g. improved community cohesion as a result of the parental and community interactions during implementation).