The Use of Nutrition Vouchers to Prevent Malnutrition and Improve the Quality of Diet
The nutrition voucher approach is the last ‘leg’ of the Maternal-Infant Health and Nutrition component of Kore Lavi (a four-year long programme funded by USAID, extended for two additional years) that aims to prevent undernutrition for pregnant and lactating women (PLW), as well as children aged 6 to 23 months. The activities of this programme included, among others, communication for health and nutritional behaviour change, as well as distribution of food rations and support to health facilities for the management of moderate acute malnutrition. The food rations were distributed on a monthly basis to PLW and to children 6 to 23 months of age, in addition to a supplementary ration distributed to the family.
Since the beginning of the implementation of the Kore Lavi programme in September 2013, Action Against Hunger highlighted the need to develop a small pilot by using nutritional vouchers to replace these rations, for different reasons. Firstly, in a context like Haiti’s, a food safety net has to be closely linked and integrated with nutrition services for it to be effective; secondly, the institutionalisation of a food aid approach cannot work efficiently if it is based on imported foods, as was previously the case with rations distributed within the programme. This learning came from previous experience with rations that were neither cost effective, nor culturally adapted to the Haitian diet, in addition to the fact that imported foods were logistically difficult to manage and delays were common.
The Kore Lavi consortium (composed of Action Against Hunger, CARE and WFP) consequently started thinking about piloting nutritional vouchers composed of locally available and locally produced foods, and about documenting certain aspects related to the composition of the nutritional voucher. In order to understand better whether the implementation of the voucher would be feasible, the consortium looked at the acceptability of this voucher by project beneficiaries and the possibility of permanently replacing imported rations with this voucher. The consortium decided that Action Against Hunger would implement this voucher pilot in the commune of Baie de Henne in the North-West Department of Haiti (see map below). The Kore Lavi consortium proposed to implement this pilot activity by targeting 650 beneficiaries with a budget of USD 500,000.