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I received nutrition support and counselling from CINI. I know the importance of post-natal care check- ups and encourage my neighbours also to avail the same. I understand how important health care and nutrion is, so I now save money and visit the hospital on my own (Young mother)


ChildHope has been working in India with partner Children in Need Institute (CINI) on a four-year project focusing on maternal health and the crucial first thousand days of a child’s life – the critical window when malnutrition impacts on survival - in some of the poorest urban and rural settings in West Bengal. This project drew to a close and in March 2016.

The project was a community based development intervention which directly reached over sixty thousand women, men and children, leading to more appropriate maternal and child health and nutrition practices at household level. The project also reached many more people indirectly - extended family members, club members, local Self Help Groups and other community representatives. It empowered communities and advocated with government service delivery systems to ensure that the mandated health and nutrition entitlements reach the population.

Funded by DFID

Learning Point

It was found that the literacy level was low among the women in the target group, so special attention was given to ensure better information dissemination through pictorial based behaviour change communications materials. This process not only made it easier for the women to understand and take action, but sensitised male family members to promote antenatal, post-natal check-up, and institutional delivery at the family level.

Aims of the Project

1. Reduced infant mortality and improve maternal health by ensuring access to quality government health services and social welfare schemes.

2. Improve postnatal care for mothers and reduce malnutrition for children below two years of age

3. Young women, particularly those from minority groups will be empowered and act as ‘Change Agents’ to contribute towards achieving improved health and nutrition for vulnerable women and children

4. Empower young women from minority groups to act as ‘Change Agents’, meaning the young women we support and the wider community are actively involved in the project.

Who we are helping:

People benefiting from the project

Adult Male

Adult Female

Male Under 2 years

Female Under 2 years

Total

9,375

25,460

13,887

12,486

How we helped:

The project focused on ante-natal and post-natal care and encouragement of institutional delivery, routine immunisation, infant and young child feeding practices and ensuring that women are aware of and able to access the government support services they are entitled to.

Much of the direct work with the women and their families was achieved through ‘Change Agents’, highly motivated young women volunteering to support others in their community, who received training, support and a small stipend. While they are disappointed that the project has ended, many of the Change Agents have made a commitment to continuing to support mothers in their communities.

Ensuring that feedback from communities to government service providers about the quality of their services has also been a unique initiative of the project, helping to bridge the gaps between demand and service provision.

Four crucial good practices have been identified as particularly beneficial

  • Self monitoring by mothers, using a pictorial calendar specially designed for the project
  • Improved Post Natal Care, with mothers incentivised to access PNC through freew PNC kits
  • Nutrition Rehabilitation Education Programme sessions, helping mothers to feed their babies and small children in a cost effective and healthy way
  • The Beneficiary Feedback Mechanism, whereby groups of women mobilised within their communities to identify and demand the changes that needed to be made to improve the health and sanitation of their locality

How this will improve a child’s life:

From the Baseline survey conducted in 2013 to the Final Evaluation in 2016, maternal health indicators around access to ANC, PNC, referral to support services and birth attended by skilled personnel have significantly increased in both rural and urban project areas. Infant and young child feeding practices have also recorded a significant improvement in project areas. Children in the normal weight range have increased while numbers of moderate and severe underweight children have reduced significantly.

Examples of changes achieved by the end of the project

Baseline

End of project

Women attending at least three ANC sessions - rural

55%

82%

Women attending at least three ANC sessions - urban

69%

98.4%

Women referred for JSY (government maternal and child health benefits) - rural

77%

55%

Women referred for JSY (government maternal and child health benefits) - urban

86%

17

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