The Impact of Cash and Food Transfers Linked to Preschool Enrollment on Child Nutrition and Cognitive Outcomes
Recent evidence shows that early childhood is a critical period for investments in human capital and that micronutrient deficiency and inadequate stimulation are major causes of impaired child development in poor countries. These findings have increased interest in promoting nutrition interventions and preschool participation during early childhood. Transfers to households linked to preschool participation have the potential to improve nutrition and cognitive outcomes in young children. Receipt of transfers may induce improvements in diet quality and greater preschool participation, enhancing both nutrition and stimulation. However, there is limited evidence on the impacts of such programs, all of it from Latin America. There is also no evidence on the relative impact of different transfer modalities linked to preschool participation.
This study is a cluster-randomized controlled evaluation of a transfer program linked to preschool participation. The transfer program, administered by the World Food Programme, provides food or cash transfers to children aged 3-5 years enrolled in preschools at baseline. The preschools, operating in the Karamoja sub-region of Uganda, are supported by UNICEF and managed by District representatives of the Government of Uganda. The food transfers consist of multiple-micronutrient-fortified corn soy blend (CSB), oil, and sugar, totaling approximately 1200 calories per day per child and including 99% of iron requirements. Cash transfers equal the estimated value of the food basket if purchased in the market. Randomization into the food treatment, cash treatment or control was done across 98 preschools, referred to as Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers. The intervention period was from February 2011 to May 2012 and included distribution of transfers on a six-to-eight-week cycle. A longitudinal (panel) survey of households with children aged 3-5 years at baseline was conducted before exposure to the transfers and 18 months later. The randomized design of this effectiveness study and the panel nature of the data allow for a rigorous field trial in which impacts on nutrition and cognitive outcomes can be assessed and compared across modalities.
We examine the impacts of the two transfer modalities, cash transfers or multiple-micronutrient-fortified food transfers, linked to preschool enrollment, on child nutrition and cognitive development. In addition, we explore potential mechanisms through intermediate impacts on food intake and participation in preschools.
The key research objectives are to assess the following:
- Impacts on targeted groups: Assess the effects of cash or food transfers on nutrition and cognitive outcomes in children aged 3-5 years at baseline and explore pathways for these effects.
- Optimal program design: Assess the differential impacts of a program in which children are provided multiple-micronutrient-fortified food transfers linked to preschool enrollment compared with one in which they are given the equivalent value of cash transfers linked to preschool enrollment.
|Study Design:||Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
|Official Title:||The Impact of Cash and Food Transfers Linked to Preschool Enrollment on Child Nutrition and Cognitive Outcomes|
- Cognitive development scores at 18 months after baseline [ Time Frame: March-May, 2012: 18 months after baseline ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]Mullens total raw score, visual reception domain score, fine motor domain score, receptive language domain score, expressive language domain score
- Anemia incidence at 18 months after baseline [ Time Frame: March-May, 2012: 18 months after baseline ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]Mild anemia (hemoglobin concentration < 11•0 g/dL); moderate to severe anemia (hemoglobin concentration < 9•0 g/dL)
- Anthropometry at 18 months after baseline [ Time Frame: March-May, 2012: 18 months after baseline ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]Prevalence of stunting; prevalence of underweight; prevalence of wasting
|Study Start Date:||August 2010|
|Primary Completion Date:||May 2012 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)|
Food transfer linked to preschool enrollment
The food transfers consist of multiple-micronutrient-fortified corn soy blend (CSB), oil, and sugar, totaling approximately 1200 calories per day per child and including 99% of iron requirements.
Cash transfer linked to preschool enrollment
Cash transfers equal the estimated value of the food basket if purchased in the market.
No Intervention: CTRL
No transfer linked to preschool enrollment
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|UNICEF early childhood development centers|
|Karamoja sub-region, Uganda|
|Principal Investigator:||Daniel Gilligan, PhD||International Food Policy Research Institute|
|Principal Investigator:||Shalini Roy, PhD||International Food Policy Research Institute|