Lack of infrastructure emerged as a major challenge for agricultural development in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. It poses a great risk to livelihoods and threatens food and nutrition security, depriving people of access to healthy, affordable food, and quality nutrition and care. Yet we know that infrastructure fosters inclusive growth and maximizes positive impacts such as improved well-being, sustainable development and can contribute to the empowerment of women and girls.
When planned, delivered, and managed following a gender-inclusive and responsive approach, it can help to address gender-based barriers that impede access to services and reinforce structural inequities for women and girls at the household and market levels. Physical infrastructure such as roads, electricity, marketplace, and water supply systems play an important role in ensuring that low-income consumers have access to nutritious foods all year round. However, there is paucity of empirical evidence on the impact of infrastructure on improved diet and nutrition outcomes among low income consumers.
A few studies conducted in Uganda, Nepal, Ethiopia, and Ecuador have shown associations between the provision of roads, electricity, health, and transport infrastructure with outcomes such as food security, child growth, and anthropocentric measures. However, as far as we are aware, no studies have looked at causal impacts of large-scale infrastructure programs on outcomes surrounding affordability and accessibility of safe and nutritious foods.
It is in light of such evidence gaps that the International Center for Evaluation and Development (ICED), applied for and received a grant under the BMGF’s Nutritious Food Systems portfolio with the goal of identifying cost-effective, scalable, and inclusive ways to ensure the availability of safe, affordable and nutritious foods and diets year-round in sub-Saharan Africa that also contributes to women’s economic empowerment.