16 July 2016

Three quick reflections from the 2016 IDS-IFPRI Nutrition Summer School

We just completed another IDS-IFPRI-Transform Nutrition Summer School.  I co-convene this with Nick Nisbett from IDS and Purnima Menon from IFPRI.

We had another great cohort of knowledgeable, committed and hardworking participants, drawn largely from the policy and programme world, who worked with the convenors of the 5 day course to go through the causes, consequences and solutions to ending malnutrition.

The Transforming Nutrition Class of 2016
As usual the course was a lot of fun and involved a lot of learning on all sides.  Here are a few quick reactions.

1. The participants were looking beyond the usual sectors for solutions that might be useful for nutrition

Where was the work on climate change (impacts of and strategies for mitigation)?  Where was the work on education (keeping girls in school, delaying age of first birth, teaching kids about high quality diets)?  We did expand the food systems section of the course, but the participants wanted more.  Maybe we will have to have parallel sessions next year. 

2.  There was a real thirst for how to put solutions together

So if you are in a region that experiences this kind of a malnutrition problem, and we can identify 30 things to do to improve the situation, how do you decide which are the priorities and how to sequence those?  We noted that there are precious few tools to help with this and one of our group suggested we use more systems thinking next time around to do this.  Good idea.  We also need to develop new tools. 

the participants working hard on their nutrition plans
3.  Finally, I was struck by how few of these courses there are throughout the world

I don't get it. Maybe it is as simple as not being able to demonstrate the benefit of the course in terms of cold hard cash to prospective investors.

But surely this problem bedevils most education initiatives.  And the participant evaluations of the course are great, and demand--the ultimate judge of value added-- is strong for the course (we can only accept 1 in 3 applicants).
our World Bank alumnus from 2014 

One qualitative indicator of benefit was the presentation of a class of 2014 participant who reached out to us to present at the course. He is a World Bank staffer working on nutrition in Lao.

He gave a great presentation that showed very clearly how the course has helped him and his team develop diagnostics with the Lao colleagues to really zero in on the key links in the Lao nutrition chain that need to be addressed.
Purnima (IFPRI) and Adam (TFNC, Tanzania) 

me, reaching for the data
When I move to GAIN on October 1,  I will certainly be working with GAIN colleagues to look at whether these immersions that bring together practitioners and evidence are a useful thing to do for our mission.

And get ready for the 2017 IDS-IFPRI course, held in July 2017.  Applications will be accepted early in 2017.  Check out this webpage early in 2017.

1 comment:

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