Improving early childhood development parenting practices and nutrition is a critical first step in preparing children for school and productive working lives. With nearly 80 percent of Madagascar’s population of 22 million living below $1.25 per day, around half of Malagasy children are chronically malnourished. As part of the roll out of a World Bank supported social safety net project that gives cash transfers to the poorest households, SIEF researchers will test the impact of adding in community meetings on healthy development with behavioral “nudges” to boost mothers’ self-esteem and help them take positive steps for their children’s future. The results will help inform future roll out of the safety net program, and provide researchers with valuable information on the applicability of behavioral science to improve early childhood development.
Research area: Early Childhood Nutrition, Development, and Health
Evaluation Sample: Six districts
Researchers: Damien De Walque, World Bank; Lia Fernald, University of California (Berkeley); Patricia Kariger, Research Consultant; Josh Martin, ideas42; Dana Guichon, ideas42; Jiyoung Han, ideas42; Tina Razafinimanana, ideas42
Partners: Pierre Lazamanana, Director, Ministry of Population, Social Protection, and Gender; Rasendra Rastima, Director General, Madagascar’s FID - Fonds d'Intervention pour le Développement; Haga Allivenja, Evaluation Director, FID - Fonds d'Intervention pour le Développement; Achille Razakatoanina, Director CCT, FID - Fonds d'Intervention pour le Développement; Mirana Noroniaiana Ranarivelo, Private Sector Partnership Specialist, UNICEF; Noroiaina Rakoto, Independent Consultant (Early Childhood Development Specialist);
A three-year World Bank supported social safety net project is using cash transfers to try and help the poorest families meet their basic needs. The safety net pilot, which started with 5,000 households, increased to around 39,000 poor households in the second half of 2016. The safety net includes unconditional transfers for families with children up to the age of six. Community-elected “mother leaders,” who are also beneficiaries, will be trained to run meetings on health and childhood development practices. In addition, with funding from ideas42, a behavioral change program will be set up to use ‘nudges” to help mothers getting cash transfers focus on how they can help their children’s development. The evidence from the impact evaluation will not only help inform the further roll-out of the safety net program, but will provide development experts elsewhere with information on the practicality and cost effectiveness of using behavior change programs.