Linking Agriculture and Nutrition Education to Improve Infant and Young Child Feeding: Lessons for Future Programmes

Author: Ellen Muehlhoff1 , 2016

Agriculture and food systems play a central role in nutrition by supplying nutritious, healthy and affordable foods. When integrated with nutrition education for behaviour change, agricultural interventions that supply diverse affordable foods from all food groups have great scope for improving young child and family diets. In 2014, process reviews were conducted in Cambodia and Malawi of food security projects that provided agricultural support and community‐based nutrition education on improved infant and young child feeding (IYCF). In both countries, household visits were carried outwithmothers/caregivers, and interviews and FocusGroupDiscussions (FGDs)were conductedwith purposively selected project stakeholders (53 in Cambodia, 170 inMalawi), including government staff from the agriculture and health sectors. Results highlight that adoption of improved IYCF practices was facilitated by participation in nutrition education and practical cooking sessions, and supportive family and community structures. Barriers faced by families and caregivers were identified, such as women's workload and lack of access to high quality foods, namely fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and animal source foods. Implementation challenges regarding coordination of cross‐sectoral targeting strategies and capacities of extension services to sustain community‐ based IYCF nutrition education need to be addressed to improve programme effectiveness and impact. The project lessons from Cambodia and Malawi are useful for integrated agriculture IYCF nutrition education programmes to help ensure better young child nutrition outcomes.

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