Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

10-01-2013

Theme 2: What works best?

 

Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on. Provide us with your own experiences and insights.

 

Organization: Concern Worldwide (Ethiopia office)

 

Author of submission:

 

  • Adèle Fox

 

Below are several key learnings from our project integrating Infant and Young Child Feeding and the Productive Safety Net Programme in Ethiopia:

 

Two years ago, Concern Worldwide documented the poor nutritional situation in Ethiopia and the multiple obstacles hampering previous efforts to improve it. It concluded that a multi-sectoral approach to improve infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices and to increase access to food were among the responses needed. In 2010, the IYCF – Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) project was launched as a pilot multi-sectoral approach aimed at reducing malnutrition in Dessie Zuria. It targeted poor households enrolled in the existing PSNP as well as the general population and addresses both the direct and root causes of malnutrition. The project aimed to develop an effective, sustainable and scalable model to improve IYCF practices in the most vulnerable households. The final results have been impressive, with large improvements in IYCF practices and a positive response from the communities and stakeholders involved in the project.

 

A number of factors contributed to the success of the IYCF – PSNP project. The project took a multi-sectoral approach, involving actors across a wide range of groups and sectors. It went beyond simply behaviour change communication, targeting the enabling environment as well as social norms, and involving the community at large. The project used multiple platforms and approaches to disseminate messages, and used a targeted approach to behaviour change, basing project activities and messages on formative research and emphasizing simple, do-able actions rather than health education messages.

 

  • Multisectoral approach: This project engaged actors from a range of sectors, including agriculture, education, women’s affairs, and health. This aspect was described as a key strength of the project, with each sector working together towards a common purpose, leading to increased ownership and accountability. A multi-sectoral approach also provides greater opportunities for engaging with communities. Cooking demonstrations, school clubs, and agricultural support were all combined to provide an overall aim of preventing malnutrition among children.

 

  • A multi-level approach: As well as working across sectors, the project also created strong links between woreda, kebele and community levels through a cascading style of training and through the continued provision of support and supervision.

 

  • A social and behavioural change approach: Early assessments showed that simply providing behaviour change communication alone was unlikely to be effective, given widespread food insecurity and other barriers to behaviour change. This project went beyond simply carrying out BCC, to influencing the community and social norms as a whole, as well as addressing barriers to practicing recommended IYCF behaviours.
  •  

The results of this project suggest that it is effectively fostering behaviour change, and  increasing levels of awareness among woreda officials, kebele level leaders and community members alike. It has differed from previous efforts to reduce malnutrition because it has shown people how to make simple, practical changes and reinforced the messages through a multitude of actors, contact points and methods, vastly increasing the likelihood of behaviour change. It is also focused on prevention of malnutrition rather than cure.

 

The approach has been able to reach a large number of people who are widely dispersed over challenging terrain. Channelling activities through the PSNP creates additional contact points and ensures targeting of the poorest households.