In Latin America and the Caribbean, social protection programmes, including school-based programmes, represent a powerful entry point for transformative programming. Across the region, national school feeding programmes reach 85 million people. Formative research has been essential in informing these programmes. Research has provided a strong evidence base to improve the design and roll-out of programmes, making them more relevant and accessible to communities and therefore more effective.
Formative research helps us to better understand the interests, attributes and needs of different population groups and community members. It facilitates two-way communication with communities, enabling a deeper understanding of the context in which a programme will operate and ensuring that communities are engaged from the beginning in the co-design of programme elements.
This paper presents two examples of formative research conducted to inform the design and development of WFP’s school-based programmes in Colombia and Haiti. The Colombia example demonstrates how a school feeding programme can use formative research to look for ways to address additional or emerging issues, such as preventing discrimination. The Haiti example highlights the importance of identifying social norms and gender-related inequalities prior to the design of a project.
This paper summarises how evidence was gathered in both Colombia and Haiti, the ways in which evidence was used to inform programming, and how this process has the potential to lead to positive transformation in the longer term.