From January 2010 to December 2011, the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Infant & Young Child Nutrition (IYCN) Project supported the Federal Ministry of Health and US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief partners in Ethiopia to improve maternal and child nutrition practices and increase HIV-free survival of children. Although Ethiopia has successfully integrated services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) with antenatal care services, many facility-based providers lack nutrition counseling skills and access to tools and materials to help them offer adequate support to mothers and children.

The project worked with the Ethiopian government and partners to improve the quality of nutrition assessment, counseling, and support services in several communities in Addis, Oromia, and Amhara Regions where the HIV prevalence rate is disproportionately high. This included developing behavior change communication tools and materials for health workers, health extension workers, and mother support groups; updating the skills of agricultural extension workers to integrate nutrition education; and training health workers to better counsel mothers, particularly those who are HIV positive, about optimal maternal, infant, and young child nutrition practices.


  • The project contributed to several nutrition working groups to enhance national policies and guidelines. Notably, IYCN collaborated with stakeholders to align national nutrition guidelines with the 2010 infant feeding and HIV recommendations issued by the World Health Organization.
  • IYCN designed a model approach to improving the quality of infant and young child nutrition assessment, counseling, and support across the continuum of care—from health facility to community—in two pilot areas.
  • IYCN developed training materials for health workers on maternal nutrition and infant and young child feeding counseling and support, and trained more than 330 health workers and their supervisors.
  • The project developed, pretested, and disseminated 4,000 copies of maternal, infant, and young child nutrition counseling cards in three languages.
  • IYCN trained 50 mother support group mentors to regularly lead discussions on infant and young child feeding within the context of HIV using IYCN’s Mother Support Groups: Trainer’s Manual and Facilitator’s Manual with Discussion Guide, adapted for the Ethiopian context.
  • The project trained 90 agriculture extension workers and staff to incorporate infant and young child nutrition counseling into their existing activities, give cooking demonstrations using nutritious food from beneficiaries’ gardens, and make appropriate referrals for nutrition services.

Download a brief summarizing IYCN’s activities in Ethiopia.

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 Photo: Virginia Lamprecht, Courtesy of Photoshare