What works to improve nutrition in northern Nigeria?

With a strong focus on learning and continuous engagement with Nigerian policy-makers, the Operations Research and Impact Evaluation (ORIE) project, led by Oxford Policy Management, was successfully completed in August 2017. ORIE has contributed for the past five years to inform nutrition research and the policy debates in Nigeria and beyond.

ORIE provided operations research, impact evaluations, costing and cost effectiveness studies for the ambitious £52 million, six-year, Department for International Development (DFID)-funded Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) programme, which supports the government to improve maternal, newborn and child nutrition in five northern states. ORIE worked closely with key federal and state government stakeholders to ensure that findings reached them and informed their policies.

ORIE findings contributed to changes in policy and practice by the WINNN programme and government. They included:

  • Revision of national guidelines on nutrition outreach services to improve access, by increasing the number of health facilities used and improving social mobilisation strategies;
  • Improved guidelines and practices for educating mothers, other family members and community leaders on best practices in breast-feeding and weaning children;
  • Supporting and recognising the volunteers who play a key role in delivering services in the community; and
  • Strengthened research capacity in nutrition in four northern Nigerian universities.

Since 2012 ORIE has produced more than 25 separate studies which were the result of five years of activities that included rigorous mixed methods impact evaluations, operational research, and research capacity building among Nigerian academics.

Key endline outputs, all available on the HEART website, include the Integrated Evaluation Report, a summary of key findings from all ORIE studies; a set of five thematic briefs which summarise learning from over the past six years of studies and implementation on governancemicro-nutrient supplementationinfant and young child feeding practicescommunity-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) and gender and that were co-produced in collaboration with WINNN implementing partners, and; a rigorous mixed methods impact evaluation (including quantitative and qualitative studies); and reports which analyse the cost and cost effectiveness of the programme.

Findings were appropriately packaged to make the messages more accessible to different audiences, making use of research summaries, policy briefs, blogs, infographics and other products. Overall, ORIE reports have been downloaded so far more than 60,000 times.

In August 2017, ORIE started the dissemination phase of its final findings. The ORIE-WINNN launch event was held in Abuja on 2- 3 August 2017 and brought together around 100 key stakeholders from many sectors and institutions in Nigeria across federal, state and local government, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, universities, and donors.

The official presentation of the findings was followed by lively learning workshops on key strategic themes. The five workshops encouraged stakeholders to discuss the key issues arising from ORIE findings and explore implications for future nutrition policy and practice. The workshops were well received and covered important topics around governance, gender, CMAM, micronutrient supplementation and IYCF.

The reports were highly rated by key stakeholders, as were our key engagement and dissemination meetings. At the dissemination event held in Abuja early in August 2017, 95% of participants rated their level of satisfaction with ORIE events and reports over the last five years as good or excellent.

We expect ORIE evidence to continue to have an impact on policy and practice in nutrition, in Nigeria and beyond, after the project closes.

Post written by Marta Moratti, who is a a monitoring & evaluation consultant at OPM.

This blog was posted on Medium on 6 October 2017. Reposted with permission. The Operations Research and Impact Evaluation (ORIE) project, is a Department for International Development (DFID)-funded consortium led and managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM). The research outputs and studies were carried out in collaboration with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Save the Children UK (SCUK), the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the Nigerian based institutions Ibadan University and the Food Basket Foundation International (FBFI).

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