Research shows that in 3 years MCCT programme has reduced stunting from 30 to 26%
The Livelihoods and Food Security Fund (LIFT) and key stakeholders of the Government-led Maternal and Child Cash Transfer Programme (MCCT) met in Nay Pyi Taw recently to discuss the results of research by Save the Children and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) which contributes to learning around the national roll-out of MCCT. According to the research results, over three years, the MCCT programme in the Central Dry Zone has led to a four percentage point reduction in stunting, from 30 per cent in communities that did not receive the MCCT to 26 per cent where the MCCT programme was in place.
The key aim of the MCCT is to reduce stunting of children in Myanmar. This is done by combining two approaches: monthly cash allowances for pregnant women and mothers of children up to two years of age, and social behavioural change communication (SBCC) activities to change perceptions and improve nutrition and health practices. LIFT started its support to this nutrition programme in 2014 and in five years, over 28,000 mothers in 722 villages have benefitted from the MCCT programme in Rakhine, Ayeyarwaddy and Mandalay.
Save the Children's National Director, Duncan Harvey, says the key findings of the research provide essential learnings for delivering MCCT programmes. "Cash transfers alone are not effective in helping pregnant women and mothers in Myanmar to reduce the stunting rates of their children. But 'cash plus education' approaches are very effective, when they provide families with social behaviour change education in relation to breastfeeding, complementary feeding, a balanced diet, health, hygiene and antenatal care."
The mother and child programme is a flagship programme in the Government of Myanmar's National Social Protection Strategy [Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR), 2014] and is rolled out by the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) in Naga, Rakhine, Chin, Kayin and Kayah until 2019. MCCT and SBCC for nutrition is also included within the Multi-Sectoral National Plan of Action for Nutrition (MS-NPAN).
Government, DSW and the National Nutrition Centre (NNC), LIFT donors and key stakeholders, World Bank, UNICEF, and development partners came together in Nay Pyi Taw to attend a presentation on the research into the MCCT programme. Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) introduced the findings from their randomised controlled trial of the MCCT programme in the Dry Zone, implemented by Save the Children and partners.
The three main messages from the research results are:
1) MCCT is an effective programme to reduce stunting of children.
2) Cash transfers aiming at improving childhood nutrition should be combined with nutrition social and behavioural change approaches which promote optimal nutrition and health practices.
3) Results underscore the importance of reaching children in the first 1,000 days of life as the window of opportunity for maximum impact on childhood health and development.
The research report and a summary of the key findings can be viewed here: https://www.lift-fund.org/mcct-randomized-controlled-trial-endline-report.
Other Government participants at the event today included representatives of the General Administration Department (GAD), the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) and the Health Literacy Promotion Unit (HLPU). The participants came together for the technical discussion with the aim of discussing and analysing the evidence in order to build on it for the benefit of the programme, which is planned to be rolled out across the country.
More information about the social behaviour change communication by Save the Children:
Presentation slides of the findings: