Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), which combines a public works program with unconditional cash and food transfers, is one of the largest safety net programs for household food security in Africa. But does it actually improve childhood nutrition in the country? A recent project paper from IFPRI’s Ethiopia Strategy Support Program (ESSP) explores this question and finds no evidence that the PSNP reduces chronic undernutrition in preschool-aged children; this finding could be the result of confounding environment, social, or economic factors that need to be addressed.
In the 2016 Global Hunger Index (produced by IFPRI, Concern International, and ), Malawi ranked 88 th out of 118 countries, with 20.7 percent of the population suffering from undernourishment and 42.4 percent of children under 5 years of age suffering from stunting. In the lean season, food and nutrition security poses even more of a challenge; according to an assessment by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, 2016 lean-season food insecurity (stretching from October 2015 – March 2016) was forecast to affect around 2.8 million people.
In 2011, 44 percent of Ethiopia’s children under the age of five suffered from chronic malnutrition.  Reducing that number is important not only for children’s current health and well-being but also for their future health and economic productivity as adults. Thus, improving childhood nutrition by expanding children’s diets to include more nutrient-dense foods like legumes and fruits and vegetables has become an important goal for many policymakers.