Programme Impact Evaluation

The children at early childhood development centers (ECDCs) lying deep in the heartland of the Amatole Municipality in the Eastern Cape, have been assessed for stunting, underweight and wasting as part of our Pilot Impact Evaluation study.

Lulama started her ECDC because she worried about children left alone while their mothers or grandparents travelled almost three hours to the local town to get food or Government grants. Others are alone because their teenaged mothers attend school. Lulama estimates that half of the children in her school are living with HIV. She gives them their ARV (anti-retroviral) medication every day, but their tummies need to be lined to cope with the drugs. When there is no food in their lunch boxes, she takes what she has at home: “I can’t let them be sick or hungry, I have to try.” The children now receive our school nutrition programme, which will help Lulama do more than try.

Our pilot evaluation at schools like this will help us understand more about the impact of our work and how to strengthen it. It aims to evaluate the impact of our nutrition programme across a sample of 15 early childhood development centres (ECDCs) in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

The goals of the Lunchbox Fund nutrition programme are to improve children’s health and school attendance so that beneficiaries are in a better position to receive an education – through improved concentration and performance, and better school enrolment and attendance. The objective of the pilot evaluation is to monitor intermediate indicators that show our nutrition programme is likely to be achieving these long-term goals. The intermediate indicators include improvements in physical growth, school attendance over the course of a school year, and improvements observed by teachers in their children’s ability to participate in class.

Physical growth is being assessed quantitatively using recognised WHO anthropometric standards for weight and height/length for age, as well as upper arm circumference. All children older than two years attending the 15 selected ECDCs will be measured, once before the schools begin receiving our nutrition support for the first time in 2017 (baseline), and then again at the end of the second, third and fourth school terms of the year.