IYCN’s contribution to country nutrition programming focused on six key elements: assessing the need in order to tailor activities to the local situation; developing policy guidance to lay the foundation for coordinated action; creating social and behavioral change communication strategies, materials, and tools; building capacity to boost human resources supporting nutritional improvements; monitoring (and evaluating) to improve management and assess impacts; and sharing good practices to expand the global impact of nutrition programs.
To develop responsive, effective strategies, we worked with each country to assess the situation and identify needs for nutrition programs. We focused on identifying gaps in service provision where IYCN could contribute to national needs, and on barriers and facilitators to optimal nutrition practices. The results of these assessments helped to inform strategies, training curricula, policy guidance, and materials.
In order to create an enabling environment for nutrition programming, we collaborated with ministries of health and other partners to incorporate current international nutrition recommendations into national policies and guidelines.
Social and behavior change communication activities were a key component of IYCN’s strategic approach to achieving sustainable improvements in maternal, infant, and young child nutrition. Improving key practices requires change at the individual, household, and community levels and in services for mothers and families. IYCN ensured that consistent and accurate messages were reinforced at each level through community-based techniques such as integrating key messages into mother support groups and drama performances. We also created communication materials, such as take-home brochures for mothers and families, to encourage the adoption of positive behaviors.
After collaborating with governments and partners to adopt improved policies, identify key behaviors, and develop messages, we collaborated with stakeholders to incorporate updated national guidelines into training curricula and job aids for everyone from health workers to community volunteers. We also enhanced referral systems, supervision, and monitoring to improve the performance of health workers.
By emphasizing monitoring and evaluation, we ensured a results-based approach to influencing behaviors and improving infant feeding practices. The use of data for management increased the effectiveness of our interventions and improved decision-making by program managers.
Sharing of lessons learned from each country helped a wide range of global and country partners enhance the impact of their programs.