Research Briefing #14: Research in Asia: Approach, methods, And Protocols

Authors: Patrick Webb; Shibani Ghosh; Eileen Kennedy; K. West; Rolf Klemm; D. Sapkota; Swetha Manohar; Jeffrey K. Griffiths

At the 19th International Congress on Nutrition in Bangkok (in 2009), the United Nations’ Standing Committee on Nutrition concluded that “there is an urgent need to provide evidence- based information on food-based strategies and systems in order to make a case for their promotion. A series of scientific articles on food security interventions for nutrition should therefore be published to complement the public health interventions promoted by the Lancet Series [of 2008]. Sustainable food security approaches to nutrition require systemic, multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral approaches taking into account environmental, cultural, social and economic dimensions, and call upon a different set of methodologies.”

USAID’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Nutrition (henceforth the ‘Nutrition Innovation Lab’) responds directly to such demand for sound empirical policy- relevant knowledge.1 This document lays out the innovative research agenda pursued by the Nutrition Innovation Lab at the intersection of agriculture, health and nutrition. Representing a cluster of investigations, rather than a single study, it seeks to generate globally-relevant findings that will allow national governments and development partners to pursue better- informed investment strategies aimed at leveraging cross-sectoral synergies that can accelerate nutrition impacts among vulnerable populations.

This is a ‘living document’ in that research questions will continue to be elaborated as national counterparts, USAID missions and research partners contribute to the evolving agenda-setting. While focused on studies conducted in Nepal, the approaches and methods of data collection and analysis presented here are consistent with those applied in other Nutrition Innovation Lab countries, most notably Uganda, but also with other relevant Tufts field study locations in Ethiopia, Timor Leste, and Malawi. Potential future research in Bangladesh, Rwanda, Egypt and Cambodia will also be consistent with the approaches described here and contribute to broadening the empirical base from which policy-relevant conclusions are drawn.