Programme Impact Evaluation
During 2017, LBF implemented a Pilot study to look for improvements the heights and weights for age (anthropometrics) among children on our nutrition programme in Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDCs). The measurements of each child at year-end were compared to their measures prior to the start of receiving our nutrition programme. We also tracked school registrations and attendance, and principals were interviewed at the end of the study to gauge their views on the programme. The Pilot was designed to fit with our existing quarterly school monitoring programme so that we could maximise resources and minimise costs.
Impact on Children's Schooling
ECDC principals see our nutrition programme as enabling children to concentrate, play and participate during school compared to previous years. At almost all the participating centres principals could identify specific children who are living in very challenging home environments (mostly orphans) who are particularly benefitting from the programme, being able to attend school more often and to participate more fully.
Impact on Stunting
We measured 322 children at 17 ECDCs (eight in KwaZulu-Natal and nine in the Eastern Cape). We were able to take repeat measures of 129 of these children in the final rounds of measurements as many children were absent or centres were closed on the days of our field visits. There were 30 children of the original 322 who were stunted (under height for age) and/or underweight for age at baseline who we managed to track across the year. Seven of these 30 children showed strong improvements in nutrition status (in terms of height or weight for age) during the Pilot period.
Impact on ECDCs and Beyond
Through the Pilot we confirmed that our nutrition has enormous impact on school registration and attendance, and a positive impact on children’s ability to participate during the school day. Without incurring significant costs or risks, we also successfully evaluated the future feasibility of using anthropometrics as a measure of impact in this small study.
The addition of LBF nutrition in ECDCs clearly allows ECDCs to become less marginal and more viable. The food offered and the increased child registration numbers contribute to an ECDC environment in which the teachers are heartened, children more engaged, and the parents more motivated to register their child and send them to school.