Niger: Childhood, food security and nutrition programme
Although Niger has made progress in reducing infant mortality, food and nutrition insecurity remain big challenges. One in ten of Niger's children are acutely malnourished; in some areas, 20% of youngsters aged 6 to 23 months suffer from severe acute malnutrition. This Joint Programme took a multi-sectorial approach to preventing and treating malnutrition, increasing basic social services and improving the food security of the most vulnerable populations.
The programme's aim was to ensure medium- and long-term sustainability by involving and engaging the target communities in all initiatives, and focused on drafting and adopting legal texts to promote better nutritional and food security.
It was based on five outcomes:
- To establish a continuum of nutritional care in order to reduce the prevalence of stunting and underweight in children aged 6 to 59 months;
- To improve the food security and nutrition status of households and particularly young children;
- To introduce nutrition topics and Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) in the country's school curriculum;
- To strengthen the management capacities of nutrition and food security programmes; and
- To support and implement a functional system of advocacy to promote nutrition and food security.
The programme targeted areas where its outcome would significantly impact national nutrition data, such as Zinder region where global acute malnutrition among children under five was above the emergency threshold of 15 % and affected country-wide malnutrition rates.
The programme's main achievements included:
- More than 102,000 children under 2 years old received treatment for under-nutrition and/or benefited from services to improve their nutritional status.
- Knowledge about nutrition has improved and behavioral changes have been encouraged, with about 400 teachers, school inspectors and parents’ representatives trained on nutrition issues. Training modules were developed to be introduced in primary school programmes.
- National Policy documents such as the “National policy framework for nutrition” and the “National strategy for child nutrition” were developed by the Ministry of Public Health to provide a more favorable institutional environment.
- More than 52,500 pregnant women in the department of Mirriah received antenatal care and nearly 8500 had assisted deliveries.
- 8,000 vulnerable households in the department Mirriah participated in community gardens.
- Canteens were established at 44 schools (with some also acquiring a kitchen, store and/or dining room), 22 schools set up school gardens and 65 schools took part in Communication for Behavior Change courses.
- The adoption of the Essential Family Practices module, increased use of basic social services (with support for malnourished children) and increased consumption of vegetables from school and community gardens raised the quality of life for target populations. Beneficiaries also saw improved nutritional status and health through the development of irrigation systems for agriculture, infrastructure construction and training for behavior change.
- Capacity building was conducted at the central, regional and departmental levels for district management team, health workers of integrated health centers and community volunteers.
- Women's knowledge about contraceptive methods was increased, as was the mobilization of structures such as Community Management Committees, Associations of Mothers of Students and community liaisons for the provision of basic social services.
- Agricultural technology packages and inputs were supplied to farmers and students for family, communal and school gardens.