Food Security & Nutrition

Integrating psychosocial support into nutrition programs in West Africa during the Sahel food crisis

McGrath, M & Schafer, A., Intervention 2014, 12(1) 115-126.  

This short article shares the process of training fool and health care staff to integrate psychosocial support for children 0-3 years and their mothers into a nutrition program in West Africa.  In a very low resource area, this simple program taught basic skills that have been proven to improve outcomes for infants.   This is a very accessible system for CBPS programs in situations where nutrition, food security, conflict, displacement or other stressors affect the local population.

Integrated psychosocial and food security approach in an emergency context: Central African Republic

Dozio, E., Peyre, L., Morel, S. & Bizouerne, C. Intervention 2016, Volume 14 (3), Page 257 – 271.  

This article shows the outcomes of a program aimed at addressing both immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition, integrating psychosocial and food security approaches in the Central African Republic the nongovernmental organisation, Action Contre la Faim. The affected the population were exposed to traumatogenic factors causing the emergence of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in large segments of the population. The situation of high food insecurity, combined with high levels of psychological distress, have significantly limited the population’s coping strategies. In order to improve the access to food, 900 pregnant and lactating women received monthly food coupons that were exchangeable in the local market. Of these, 199 women who had been identified as the most psychologically vulnerable benefited from specific support: individual counselling or therapeutic groups. Through this multi-sectoral approach, the women’s average individual dietary diversity score increased and households improved their food consumption score. Further, these women improved their psychological wellbeing and were able to regain some degree of hope and to develop coping skills. They regained confidence and felt stronger and more prepared to face the future, showing that this multi-sectoral approach strengthened family resilience.  

Manual for the Integration of Child Care Practices & Mental Health Into Nutrition Programs

Action contre la Faim (ACF), 2012.

This manual is a tool-kit providing key steps on how-to-do-it. It is a series of fact sheets about the basic package for child care practices at Therapeutic Feeding Centres (TFCs) or during outpatient treatment at Outpatient Therapeutic Program (OTPs) centres. Treatment for undernutrition is increasingly integrated into healthcare facilities and the integration of basic practices can make a big difference, several studies have shown its positive impact on the efficacy of the treatment (especially in reducing the number of relapses and discontinuation of treatment) and on the development of undernourished children. The fact sheets on each topic include the main points on the topic covered, few basic theoretical points and concrete explanations about how psychosocial and child care practices are essential in the area covered, and practical information on how to implement child care practices within the topic covered. Some fact sheets are accompanied by appendices that illustrate or supplement all these points. There are also links to websites that provide further information on specific topics.  

Baby Friendly Spaces. Holistic Approach for Pregnant, Lactating Women and their very young children in Emergency

Action contre la Faim (ACF), 2014.

This document explains why and how to implement Baby Friendly Spaces (BFS). The manual demonstrates why the implementation of BFS is crucial in emergency situations and provides a summary of basic information, practical advice and refers to other documents for further information. During emergency situations, whether human-made or natural disasters, disease and death rates among children under-two years are generally higher than for any other age group, with the highest risk for infants. The overall objective of Baby Friendly Spaces is to protect infants and young children within their families in an emergency context through optimization of child and maternal care practices with a holistic approach for pregnant, lactating women and their children. Throughout the manual, reflections are presented on how to adapt Baby Friendly Spaces to a wide variety of local situations and cultural context specificities.