COMMUNITY HEALTH PROMOTERS (NEEP): SIMPLE NUTRITION MESSAGING FOR MOTHERS
In 2014, we designed and evaluated NEEP – a program designed to provide poor households with critical information about infant feeding, such as what types of affordable and readily available foods are good sources of key nutrients, how to prepare foods in the most optimal and hygienic ways, and advice on breastfeeding.
The goal of the information campaign was to reduce child-stunting and malnutrition which are major issues in Africa and Asia. The campaign was designed to take advantage of Dispensers for Safe Water existing rural delivery system to share the information cost-effectively and, if the intervention was found to be impactful, at scale. NEEP was modelled on a similar and effective program in Malawi which was found to reduce infant mortality and improve height-for-age outcomes among young children.
We piloted NEEP in Western Kenya and partnered with Marco Vera-Hernández from the Institute for Fiscal Study (IFS) to evaluate it. The findings are documented in an evaluation report that is now available online.
A significant contamination challenge limited the evaluation which generated inconclusive results. Consequently, we are no longer pursuing NEEP as a potential new program. We will be sharing lessons from our experience with and evaluation of this intervention over time.
NO SUGAR BY YOUNG 1OVE: INNOVATIVE HIV EDUCATION IN BOTSWANA
Across the world, and in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, women and girls bear the brunt of HIV infections. Transactional, cross generational relationships, which are relatively common in Sub-Saharan Africa, are among the key drivers of the disproportionately high rates of HIV among young women and girls. This is because older men are more likely to have HIV than younger women and girls and younger women are less able to negotiate safe sex practices with older men.
In 2014, the Botswana based organization Young 1ove designed and pioneered an innovative program, No Sugar, to raise awareness among primary school girls about the dangers of “Sugar Daddies”—older partners offering financial gifts in exchange for a sexual relationship. No Sugar was premised on a 2005 experimental study which found that girls who were given information on HIV prevalence, disaggregated by age and gender, were 28% less likely to be pregnant than girls who received messages promoting abstinence only and girls in a control group. In the study, pregnancy was used as a proxy for unprotected sex, an indicator of exposure to HIV. To gauge whether the effects from the initial study could be replicated in a new context, Young 1ove opted to test No Sugar in Botswana.
We partnered with Young 1ove to design No Sugar, the evaluation of the program, and map out potential scale-up options for No Sugar across Botswana and Southern Africa. Ultimately, the evaluation produced ambiguous results, showing no clear positive effect on its intended outcomes. With no clear evidence of No Sugar’s impact on HIV or pregnancy, Young 1ove and it’s partners, including Evidence Action, made a decision not to scale the No Sugar program. We are proud of that decision, and have shared lessons from our experience with No Sugar in a two-part blog series.