Challenges to Turning Nutrition & Agriculture Research into Action: A Case Study of NGO Research Uptake in Nepal

Authors: E. Biehl

In Nepal, despite improvements in poverty reduction and health services, malnutrition persists. 41% of children under age five are stunted, 29% of children are underweight, and 18% of women of reproductive age are malnourished1. The Government of Nepal, research institutions, and local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working to improve nutrition through nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions such as agricultural programs that increase production, productivity and income; improving water, sanitation, and hygiene practices; and encouraging more equitable food allocation within the household2. The involvement of these different sectors and recent push for nutrition-sensitive interventions and evidence supporting them makes Nepal an appropriate case study of how research is (or is not) translated into action. Current published knowledge on research uptake focuses on how research translates into policy, particularly in developed countries3-6. Much less is known about how this research is taken up by NGOs and incorporated into program design in low-income countries.

This study identified 1) the key factors influencing NGOs use of scientific evidence to inform the design and implementation of nutrition and/or agriculture programs in Nepal 2) common barriers to research uptake and 3) recommendations for overcoming these barriers. Understanding the challenges to turning nutrition and agriculture research into action will help ensure that scientific knowledge of nutrition and agriculture interventions is optimally used by implementing organizations in Nepal.