As nutrition policymakers and leaders grapple with the challenge of malnutrition in West Africa and elsewhere, many have voiced a demand for evidence on how nutrition improves, and how to proactively improve nutrition outcomes. It is a call for experiential learning that draws upon the experiences of policymakers, nutrition leaders, program managers, and implementers in making decisions on what to do in real time in different country contexts.
This was the essential rationale for the Stories of Change (SoC) initiative in 2015–2016, led by IFPRI/Transform Nutrition. SoC sought to capture and support experiential learning on how to address the undernutrition challenge in different settings. Drawing upon six case studies of countries that had experienced significant success in driving down rates of child stunting, SoC shed light on the drivers and pathways of nutrition-relevant change — with a particular focus on the determinants of political commitment, policy and program coherence, and effective implementation of nutrition-relevant actions. In West Africa were are in the process of SoC studies in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
SoC sought to inspire, as well as inform action. From its inception, it revolved around a stakeholder engagement process that included focus groups, and in-country consultations — from study design to discussions of initial findings and dissemination of core lessons and recommendations. There were several audiences, from high-level (potential) champions to mid-level program implementers, public and private sector actors, civil society and academia.
The first phase of this work involved the publication of the Nourishing Millions book in 2016 followed by a special issue of Global Food Security in 2017, featuring 10 papers (including 6 country case studies). A second wave of case studies started in 2018 (led by POSHAN, A4NH, Transform Nutrition West Africa) in several countries in Africa and Asia, including several Indian states. And in 2019, a new set of studies was initiated – “Stories of Challenge” – focusing on how countries are grappling with the challenge of addressing the obesity epidemic. All of our country study resources are now available on one platform which will continue to grow as more studies are added.