Generating evidence for going to scale in multisectoral nutrition programming

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How many proven effective public health projects have you been involved in that have been scaled-up to have national – or even global – impact? Those of us working in this field know it’s all too rare for an intervention to catch on and spread like wildfire. Rather, most successful interventions fizzle out when project funds dry up or donor interest is gone.

So, what can we do to increase the chances that an effective intervention is adopted? At FHI 360, we are trying to answer this question using the USAID-funded Strengthening Multisectoral Nutrition Programming through Implementation Science Activity (MSNP) as the foundation for two new multisectoral research studies.

Beyond DALYs: New measures for a new age of development

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Integrated development is an approach that employs the design and delivery of programs across sectors to produce an amplified, lasting impact on people’s lives. Integrated programs are based on the premise that the interaction between interventions from multiple sectors will generate benefits beyond a stand-alone intervention. As human development interventions take this more holistic approach, funders and program implementers alike recognize the importance of understanding the impact of multi-sector interventions. While we can continue to use sector specific measures of impact – for instance, Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYS) – this creates an apples and oranges problem if one wishes to compare across interventions. It begs the question: can we move towards a single performance metric to assess effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of integrated programs? Here at FHI 360, we are attempting to answer this question by developing a new measurement tool – MIDAS (Measuring the Impact of Development Across Sectors).

In this post, we discuss the need for better measures, describe our conceptual framework, and then present some of the key components of the tool. We conclude by demonstrating how the tool worked when piloted in a current FHI 360 project.

Show me the evidence: Cultivating knowledge on governance and food security

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I recently participated in a salon on integrating governance and food security work to enhance development outcomes. Convened by the LOCUS coalition and FHI 360, the salon gathered experts in evaluation, governance and food security to review challenges and best practices for generating evidence and knowledge. A post-salon discussion recorded with Annette Brown and Joseph Sany speaks to the gaps in evidence and the need to more accurately measure how governance principles influence food security outcomes.

I came out of the salon conversation thinking that while there was a hunger for evidence, there are still large gaps and significant differences within the literature on things as basic as definitions. That being said, I wanted to dig a bit more into what evidence was actually out there and think about what needs to be done to move this budding evidence base forward. In this post, I highlight three pieces of interesting research that contribute to the evidence base on governance and food security integration, and then propose a few suggestions on how to grow that knowledge base.

Photo credit: Garth Cripps/Blue Ventures; used with permission

Research on integrated development: These are a few of my favorite things

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You may have recently noticed an uptick in conversations within development circles on this underlying theme: A full realization of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires critical changes in what we do based on understanding the significant linkages between social, economic and environmental sectors. Intuitively, that seems fairly sensible. These linkages suggest that we should be using integrated approaches. But what do we know about the effectiveness of intentionally integrated approaches to development? In this post, I share a few of my very favorite examples of research that provide evidence on the effectiveness of integrated approaches.