With scale up funding granted in 2013, Helen Keller International’s Making Markets Work for Women (M²W²) project, funded by UKAID/SHIREE aimed to reduce food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty among the extreme poor. We outline the impact this program had on household economy and diets.
A quasi-experimental impact assessment among a panel of 470 propensity score matched extremely poor households was undertaken through quantitative surveys in October 2013 and October 2015. At baseline, households were identified through a community wealth-ranking process that had been conducted in both treatment and control villages.
M2W2 activities did not impact mean daily income expenditures per person (p<0.34) or monthly income per household (p<0.21). However, controlling for baseline values and household expenditure per person, the project significantly reduced the odds of a household experiencing hunger using the household hunger scale (OR 0.2, p< 0.001) and reduced the number of months in which households had difficulty with food provisioning (-0.7 months, p<0.002). Treatment households also owned significantly more assets at end line compared to the control group (1.2 items, p<0.003). Women's diets in treatment households also improved compared to control (9-item scale, 0.5, p<0.000) with only 0.35 the odds of having an inadequate diet (p<0.000).
The M2W2 project improved the resilience of extremely poor households despite not increasing income or expenditures by reducing periods of food insecurity and increasing the asset base of households. Further research is needed to ascertain the long term impacts of these improved coping abilities.