Assets for Alimentation? The Nutritional Impact of Assets-Based Programming in Niger

Year: 2018 HiCN Working Paper No. 275

A recent strand of aid programming aims to develop household assets by removing the stresses associated with meeting basic nutritional needs. In this paper, we posit that such nutrition- sensitive programmes can reduce malnourishment by encouraging further investment in diet. To test this hypothesis, we study the World Food Programme’s “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 endline: receiving no assistance; receiving nutrition-specific assistance; or receiving nutrition-specific assistance and nutrition-sensitive food for assets programming. When provided alone, food aid has no nutritional impact, relative to receiving no assistance. However, we observe pronounced positive effects when food aid is paired with assets-based programming. We 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 asset-based nutrition-sensitive programmes interact positively with nutrition-specific programming.