During its 10 years of programming, the Feed the Future Nutrition Innovation Lab engaged in over 63 partnerships in at least 17 countries. Two examples are Malawi and Nepal, where the Nutrition Innovation Lab leveraged partnerships with the government, USAID programs, and universities to implement capacity building and research activities to support nutrition policy and programs. USAID Advancing Nutrition reviewed the Nutrition Innovation Lab’s project documents and conducted interviews to identify successes, challenges, and lessons from its activities in the two countries. Recommendations highlighted processes and structures that can support effective partnerships by developing clear roles and responsibilities, allocating sufficient time and resources to build and maintain relationships, and tailoring arrangements to meet different needs.
The Nutrition Innovation Lab’s partnerships may have been particularly successful because the Lab took the time to think through how partnerships could contribute to long-term objectives, and partnerships were selected accordingly. For example, the Nutrition Innovation Lab aimed to support policy design and implementation, so it engaged policy makers from the beginning. This built the credibility of its research, attracted other partners and stakeholders, and increased dissemination and uptake of its findings. The final recommendation focused on the importance of monitoring specific outcomes related to the partnerships, not just the outcomes of the activity overall. Monitoring partnership processes and outcomes supports adaptive management, builds accountability, and makes it more likely that partnership activities will be prioritized. While these recommendations may not be specific to the nutrition sector, they are applicable to partnerships operating in multi-sectoral nutrition environments. A full list of our recommendations can be found in the brief.
The results of this activity have been shared with USAID and the Nutrition Innovation Lab to inform the design of future activities. USAID Advancing Nutrition is also applying these findings and recommendations to current work, including an activity to develop guidance on monitoring and assessing collaboration for multi-sectoral nutrition projects.