Thalia Sparling

New implementation indicators to measure delivery and uptake of nutrition-sensitive agriculture programs

Doctorate: PhD in Public Health, Heidelberg University, 2017
Current Employment: Researcher/PhD Candidate: Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Institute of Public Health, Heidelberg University, Germany
Home Mentor: Dr. Sabine Gabrysch, Institute of Public Health, Heidelberg University, Germany 
Host Mentor: Dr. Purnima Menon, Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Short biography:

Thalia completed her PhD at the University of Heidelberg’s Institute of Public Health in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics unit. Under the supervision of Dr. Sabine Gabrysch, Thalia worked on the Food and Agricultural Approaches to Reducing Malnutrition (FAARM), a clustered randomized field trial investigating the impact of Helen Keller International’s Homestead Food Production program in rural Bangladesh. Her dissertation examined the association of food access, diet and nutrition with depression in women of reproductive age, particularly in Bangladesh. Prior to joining the Heidelberg Public Health team, she worked for two years in South Sudan as a Technical Advisor to the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program with the Carter Center. Thalia holds a Master in Public Health from Columbia University, focusing on forced migration and humanitarian assistance, and a Bachelor of Arts from Smith College in anthropology and Spanish.

ResearchGate profile

Project summary:

With the IMMANA Fellowship, I plan to develop a set of pathway indicators specific to nutrition-sensitive agriculture programs. The indicators will be designed to capture basic fidelity of program delivery (coverage, intensity and quality of exposure), as well as participant response (participation intensity and early and delayed indicators of behavior change). I will also research and propose technical guidance for successfully collecting ‘early warning’ data that shows implementation barriers and failures early enough to change and improve programs.

This project will benefit from ongoing work within the Food and Agricultural Approaches to Reducing Malnutrition (FAARM) trial in rural Bangladesh. I will use the large FAARM dataset to analyze systemic links between program activities and uptake by comparing ‘input’ level indicators to ‘output’ and ‘outcome’ level indicators and test capacity of indicators to predict desired outcomes. I will examine linkages between different levels of program delivery (activities, participation and uptake) as well as examining intermediate outcomes measured through the surveillance system.

Thalia at the ANH Academy Week in Kathmandu, Nepal, July 2017.