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Improved Infant and Young Child Feeding Takes Root in Nigeria

Photo of men and women reaching out and cutting a blue ceremonial ribbon.

The 2013 Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) for Nigeria found that infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices remain suboptimal in Nigeria. Among other findings, only 17.4% of children under six months old are exclusively breastfeed, and only 35.3% of mothers are continuing breastfeeding at two years. Child nutrition outcomes are often poor, with the rate of wasting among children under five years old at 18.0% and the rate of stunting at 36.8%.

To help address this, SPRING began working in Nigeria in 2012 to reduce undernutrition, stunting, and anemia. SPRING partnered with the Nigerian government and civil society organizations to raise awareness of and build capacity in IYCF. SPRING supported the development of tools and materials to improve IYCF practices, including work on the adaption of UNICEF’s generic Community Infant and Young Child Feeding (C-IYCF) Counselling Package. SPRING helped the government scale up this version of the Package in 122 local government areas (LGA) in 16 states.

Despite uptake of the C-IYCF Counselling Package by nearly 60 countries, there is little data on the effectiveness of the materials in different settings. To fill this gap, SPRING, UNICEF and the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health, implemented and evaluated the Package in Kajuru local government area (LGA) in Kaduna State, Nigeria. The evaluation concluded after 18 months of implementation in December 2017. With the conclusion of the evaluation, and most of SPRING’s activities, the government and the communities there have taken up the torch by continuing to invest in improved IYCF practices.

In February 2018, the Kaduna state government and UNICEF inaugurated a food demonstration corner at a health facility in Kajuru in order to reinforce the practices promoted by the C-IYCF Counselling Package.

Health facility staff and community volunteers will use this “corner” to demonstrate how to prepare nutrient-rich complementary foods for young children. Several of SPRING’s C-IYCF partners were present for the event, including Mrs. Hawa, the Assistant State Nutrition Officer and, Mr. Adams, the Kajuru LGA Nutrition Focal Person. Aisha El-Rufa’i, the wife of Kaduna State’s governor and a champion for improved nutrition, was present to cut the ribbon.

This investment shows that promoting C-IYCF practices for improved nutrition remains a high priority for the community and the government, and highlights SPRING’s lasting impact in Nigeria. This increased commitment is illustrated by the frequency of news articles in state and national newspapers focusing on nutrition in Kaduna, including eight stories specifically on the C-IYCF program.

Graph titled News Articles on Nutrition in Kaduna State, Nigeria, showing that mentions of the C-IYCF program spiked in 2017.

For more information about SPRING’s evaluation of the C-IYCF Counselling Package in Nigeria, please visit our C-IYCF page or read the final evaluation summary report.