2023
Language:
English

A Prepandemic Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection Program Has Sustained Benefits for Food Security and Diet Diversity in Myanmar during a Severe Economic Crisis

One-third of preschool children in Myanmar were stunted in 2015–2016, and three-quarters of children 6–23 mo had inadequate diet diversity. In response, a large-scale nutrition-sensitive social protection program was implemented over 2016–2019. In 2020, however, Myanmar’s economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and harder still by a military takeover in 2021. The objective of this study was to examine whether former beneficiaries of this program experienced better food security, food consumption, and diet diversity outcomes in the wake of major economic shocks. Both intervention arms reported lower food insecurity, more frequent consumption of nutritious foods, and more diverse maternal and child diets compared with households in the control group. However, the improved dietary outcomes were larger for mothers and children exposed to CASHþSBCC compared with CASH, as was their monthly household income. The findings suggest that a program combining cash transfers with nutrition-related education can yield sustained benefits 1–2 y after the program was completed. This strengthens the evidence to support the expansion and scale-up of nutritionsensitive social welfare programs to redress chronic malnutrition and enhance nutritional resilience in the face of a severe economic crisis.