February 16, 2016 | By

Alive & Thrive Initiates Rapid Behavior Change for Improved Infant Feeding

The moms in the The First 1,000 Days demonstrate the importance of behavior change to improve child nutrition. In many cases, they were able to develop the skills to properly nourish themselves and their families with the help of community education initiatives. Alive & Thrive is one organization that is working to promote healthy growth and development in children across the developing world through behavior change.  

In 2010, Alive & Thrive initiated large scale programs in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Vietnam to improve breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices by 2014. In these countries, as with many others in the developing world, traditional behaviors and social norms often contradicted optimal feeding practices, perpetuating malnutrition and poor development. In Vietnam, for example, infants were often fed with water and other non-breastmilk substances before six months of age, due to traditional custom and the perception that Vietnamese women could not produce sufficient breastmilk. Alive & Thrive found that proper feeding in Vietnam was also stymied by aggressive infant formula marketing and a lack of support for breastfeeding from family members, employers, and health workers.

To counter these types of behavior, Alive & Thrive organized mass media campaigns, involving television and radio programming, to reach a large national audience at little cost. They also engaged health workers to communicate individually with mothers regarding feeding behaviors. Alive & Thrive reached more than 16 million mothers and saw rapid and widespread increases in exclusive breastfeeding and diet diversity in all countries.

Individual communications carried out by the program took the form of educational home visits, antenatal and postnatal care visits, health forums, and community mobilization sessions. In Bangladesh, Alive & Thrive deployed health workers with packets of micronutrient powder to prevent anemia and bowls showing the proper types and amounts of food for children of different ages. They also implemented a set of reforms to ensure that health care workers and volunteers were providing the best possible care—trainings, monthly meetings, supportive supervision, and performance-based cash incentives. In Ethiopia, Alive & Thrive leveraged home visits to engage communities and foster supportive environments for breastfeeding. Volunteers hosted conversations encouraging peer assistance for mothers and public events to celebrate healthy achievements in behavior change.

Alive & Thrive’s mass communication programs used radio and television to reinforce the messages of health care workers. In Vietnam, television spots addressed misperceptions about the adequacy of breastmilk and promoted the use of iron-rich foods for growth and development. In Ethiopia, media campaigns were targeted towards men, based on their access to mass media and their influence over feeding decisions—radio dramas and music videos communicated proper food preparation and supportive feeding practices.

Alive & Thrive is at the forefront of implementing infant and young child feeding interventions at scale. Their success, they found, related to the variety of messaging to mothers: the greater number of feeding activities that reached a mother—including home visits, village gatherings, and radio spots delivered by community leaders and medical personnel—the more likely she was to adopt new practices. Generations of children have the potential to benefit from these improvements to breastfeeding coverage and diet diversity, in the form of enhanced growth and brain development. Alive & Thrive has since expanded its programming to include Burkina Faso, India, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

Continue to check back on Outrage & Inspire for more innovations on mother and child nutrition, and remember to preorder The First 1,000 Days. 

Archive




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Starved Bodies, Hungry Minds

The women farmers at the foot of the Lugulu Hills paused from the preparation of their fields for the planting season and looked forward to the harvest.

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Extending the Reach

I returned from a day in the field with Kenyan smallholder farmers last week to find these words from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as the Newsbrief’s Quote of the Week:

“As I travel around the world talking about American agriculture, the one thing that has struck me is how jealous the rest of the world is about extension, how they would love to have the capacity that we have in this country and often, unfortunately, take for granted, of the ability to reach out and gain very useful information and insights to improve productivity.”

Exactly, I thought.

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Bringing Home the Seeds

It’s been Christmas in February this week for thousands of smallholder farmers in western Kenya.  Seeds and fertilizer for the imminent planting season arrived.

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Reality Check

As the budget battles intensify, a reality check is in order: Slashing foreign aid targeted for boosting development in poor countries will hardly make a dent in the deficit.  The savings will be negligible, but the consequences would be huge.


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Writing on the Wall

The writing on the wall, foretelling the turmoil that has roiled North Africa and the Middle East in recent weeks, appeared during the food crisis of 2008.  It was then that staple food shortages and soaring prices sent protesters into the streets in dozens of countries in the developing world.

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We Do Big Things

For those of us who were listening to the President’s State of the Union address this week, listening for a reference to the fight against hunger through agriculture development, we heard this near the end of the speech:

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Once again, the great paradox of Africa emerges: hunger in one part of a country, food surplus in another.

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The Task Ahead for the 112th Congress

As 2011 dawns, the United States government is poised to lead the greatest assault on global hunger through agriculture development since the Green Revolution half a century ago.  

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The college football bowl season, which begins this weekend, celebrates food and eating almost as much as it celebrates gridiron excellence.  Just consider how many of this season’s bowls – Bowls!  The very word comes straight from the kitchen — are sponsored by food companies or named after food:


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Food Is the Foundation

This week in Cancun, international negotiators have been consumed with climate change.  And on Dec. 1, all around the world, red ribbons were out in force for World AIDS Day.

Multimedia

Videos


 


Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

» Learn more.
» Order your copy of the book.

Books

The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

Learn more »

The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

Learn more »

EnoughEnough

Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

Learn more »