How Can Implementation Research Strengthen Scale up Efforts in Nutrition?

In this two-part video blog, SISN founding member, Purnima Menon, Senior Research Fellow in IFPRI’s Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division focusses on the opportunities and challenges of conducting implementation research (IR), including in the specific context of addressing wasting in South Asia.

The presentation was originally given in May 2017 at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Conference “Stop Stunting: Scaling Up Care for Children with Severe Wasting in South Asia” in Kathmandu, Nepal; but has been tailored here to the needs of the SISN audience.

In the first video, Dr. Menon describes how understanding the connection between nutrition interventions and delivery platforms is key to the effectiveness of scale up efforts and how IR, when embedded in the system, can help to shed light on this complex interaction. However, she highlights several challenges of conducting IR in this context.

In the second video, Dr. Menon describes examples of IR in nutrition in South Asia, namely:

  1. Research on the Alive and Thrive initiative aimed at improving infant and young child feeding practices (IYCF) in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Viet Nam through interpersonal counseling and mass media delivered at scale in the context of policy advocacy (children 6-23 months).
  2. An operational assessment by POSHAN in Odisha, India, aiming to examine the state of delivery and use of ten select essential nutrition interventions (ENIs) and the role of intersectoral coordination in their delivery.
  3. An early operational evaluation of the Bangladesh National Nutrition Services evaluation.

Finally, in the context of the UNICEF-organized conference on severe acute malnutrition, Dr. Menon makes some specific suggestions about how IR can be used to better understand issues related to the prevention and treatment of wasting.

Have an idea or a comment on any of the issues discussed above? We welcome your feedback – you can comment on this post on our LinkedIn or Twitter feed or write to us using the email address below. 

Are you actively involved in the implementation of nutrition programs? Please send your case studies of IR to the e-mail below.                                                     

If you are interested in finding out more about IS or becoming a member of SISN to help us advance the use of IS in nutrition, you can contact us via our website ( or can email us at


Avula R; Kim SS, Chakrabarti S, Tyagi P, Kohli N, Menon, P. Delivering for nutrition in Odisha: Insights from a study on the state of essential nutrition interventions. POSHAN Report 7. 2015. New Delhi, India: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Bergeron G, Castleman T. Program responses to acute and chronic malnutrition: divergences and convergences. Adv Nutr. 2012 Mar 1;3(2):242-9.

Gillespie S, Menon P, Kennedy A. Scaling Up Impact on Nutrition: What Will It Take? Adv Nutr 2015 Vol. 6: 440-451.

IFPRI Research on Alive & Thrive.

Menon P, Stoltzfus RJ Building Convergence in Science, Programs, and Policy Actions on Child Undernutrition: Symposium Rationale and Overview. Adv Nutr 2012 vol. 3: 224-226

Menon P, Covic NM, Harrigan PB, Horton SE, Kazi NM, Lamstein S, Neufeld L, Oakley E, Pelletier D. Strengthening implementation and utilization of nutrition interventions through research: a framework and research agenda. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Dec;1332:39-59.

Saha KK, Billah M, Menon P, El Arifeen S, Mbuya NVN. Bangladesh National Nutrition Services: Assessment of Implementation Status. World Bank Study. 2015. Washington, DC: World Bank. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.