Mercy Corps MILK program participants in Niger working with Improve Group tools
MILK Program: Measuring impact of food-aide in Niamey, Niger

The Situation

During the 2009 global food crisis, Mercy Corps identified Niger’s urban population as the most affected by increased food prices. Funded by the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the MILK program (Market Innovations and Linkages between the Ranch of Kirkissoye and Urban Niamey), contained three components:

  • Cash-for-work neighborhood sanitation activities, helping vulnerable residents earn income and address immediate financial and nutritional needs.
  • Organizational support to peri-urban dairy cooperatives to increase availability of fresh milk.
  • Financial support to entrepreneurs to foster resilience against future shocks.

The Solution

The Improve Group conducted an impact evaluation in 2011. Eighteen months later, our team returned to complete a follow-up study to explore the sustained resiliency of participant households.

Our team traveled to Niamey, Niger, to conduct interviews utilizing proprietary IG Image Grouping© sessions.To maximize accuracy and community participation, we developed a data-gathering tool that utilized images and language specially adapted for the local population. Our final report examined all three components and provided recommendations for Mercy Corps to consider in its future efforts.

These evaluations:

  • Assessed the ongoing impact of the MILK program in the face of periodic food instability.
  • Examined how well the initiative built pathways toward resiliency.
  • Determined how well program benefits were sustained.
  • Investigated differences in how participating and non-participating households weathered the food crisis.
  • Took a participatory approach, demonstrating language and cross-cultural competency to promote community buy-in.

The Results

The final evaluation has armed Mercy Corps with reliable data to inform its future humanitarian programming efforts.

View the final report

"I was impressed at the level of detail and professionalism that the Improve Group brought to this evaluation…the evaluation was tailored to the Nigerian context and was conducted in a culturally appropriate manner.” – Laura Miller, Senior Program Officer, West & Central Africa, Mercy Corps