Improving Food and Nutrition of Children and Mothers in Nepal

Case Studies
Agriculture, Food Security, Health, Nutrition
​​​Save the Children, Nepal
South Asia
Publication Dates:
September, 2013
Content Formats:

This is one of 50 Harvesting Nutrition project case studies. Harvesting Nutrition was a contest held in 2012 and 2013 that showcased active projects working to improve the impact of agriculture and/or food security on nutrition outcomes. Co-sponsors were SecureNutrition, Save the Children UK, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Learn More.

Project Description: ​

This project aims to improve the food security and nutritional status of 8,000 vulnerable households in Banke, Bardiya and Rukum districts of Mid-Western region of Nepal. The main goal is to improve livelihood and nutritional status of children and mothers in these three districts. The first project objective is to support families to increase food production so that they can create improved living environment that includes better nutrition and food security. This has been executed by adopting improved farming practices and dissemination of appropriate agriculture related technology, and the development of pro-poor value chains.

The second objective is to improve the economic opportunities of marginalized youths and their families by providing them opportunities to learn vocational skill and micro-enterprises development and creation, to bridge the food/income gap due to little or no land.

Thirdly, the project aims to improve what families are including in their daily meal, and their nutritional practices. The interventions focused on commercial vegetable farming, spice production, leasehold farming, seed multiplication, poly-house technology and nutrition interventions have increased food availability, food sufficiency and food intake diversity. In order to improve feeding behavior, mothers along with health staff are oriented and mentored about Infant Young Child Feeding practices. The project also aims to improve the institutionalization of growth monitoring and nutrition counseling up to the community levels by strengthening the quality and timely service delivery and the appropriate training of local health facilities.

Impact of project: ​

Development takes time because household learning of new skills and behaviours takes time. The project started in October 2011 as the Food Security Initiative (FSI), funded by the EC for 22 months. Save the Children, based on the success of the FSI project, saw the need to continue strengthening local capacities to ensure the sustainability of the improvements in nutrition and food security. Also, given the capacity developed by beneficiaries and health facilities, and the existence of empowered community based organizations (i.e. youth clubs, mother groups and cooperatives) already equipped with skills, knowledge and commitment, it made sense to build on this to maximize impact and sustainability.

An important lesson whilst designing the project is to be attentive to strategies which allow for maximum resources to reach the beneficiaries. This project focuses on nutrition promotion through agriculture and nutrition education directly reaching the family/households and capacity building and material support of local health facilities. At the design phase the strategies for the inclusion of disadvantaged groups should be identified, as it is often difficult to mainstream these groups due to their isolation.  Consultation of disadvantaged groups, the whole community and local government is essential during the feasibility study for common ownership. Furthermore, nutrition by nature is very much about attitude, knowledge and practices, which often spreads from person to person.

Why this project is a Good Practice example: ​

The project is a good example of maximizing nutrition impact because it adopts the Child Centred Integrated Approach that addresses the root causes of malnutrition and food insecurity in the nutritionally most vulnerable, children and mothers. It adopts a holistic approach which increases the nutrition impact, including social mobilization, safety net measures, technology transfer to improve local agriculture production, household income generation opportunities, pro-poor value chain and marketing, nutrition education, growth monitoring, and capacity building of local health facilities.

Furthermore, the project is composed of interventions that directly increase food security which impacts nutrition at a household level. The project enables farmers groups to identify and disseminate appropriate agricultural technologies, for example: micro-irrigation technology (multi-use system, treadle pumps, drip irrigation and sprinkler); off season vegetable production in poly-houses; low cost kitchen gardening; and improved crop seed multiplication. Data as of December 2012 shows that there was remarkable increase in agriculture production per household; cereal crop by 40%; legume by 50%; vegetable by 10 fold; spice by 3.3 fold; and medicinal plants from none to 211 kg. The awareness training on the value of irrigation for irrigating crops and on quality seed use for increasing agricultural productivity, especially in vegetable crops, resulted in greater use of irrigation and improved hybrid seeds. This was further supported by making input linkages and leveraging resources. Results by 2012 revealed 48 % of project area households had increased their food sufficiency compared to areas where the interventions were not administered.

Impact Evaluation:

Impact evaluation in progress

Lessons Learned: ​

One of the most important lessons learned during this project is the effectiveness of the use of multi-sector integrated approach in addressing the problems of malnutrition among children and mothers combining food production, youth vocational employment, and health and nutrition. A further lesson is the success of adopting a two-fold strategy in addressing food based nutrition promotion and clinical services using existing district health facilities through the District Health system. The intervention of food based nutrition promotion includes the agriculture improvement activities, income generation, and awareness on existing social security facilities by government and appropriate technology transfer to smallholder farmers.

In addition, this project also focuses on improving the capacities of local health facilities so that growth monitoring of babies and clinical services are continued and remain effective. The interventions including training government staff on growth monitoring at local health facilities, materials/equipment support, mentoring and coaching female community health volunteers (FCHVs) and referring severely malnourished children to the government referral hospitals.  Moreover, involvement of the local population and stakeholders in beneficiaries’ selection and program implementation created a favourable environment and ownership towards the project, helps mitigate community level disputes and bring community-wide contributions



Funders: Save the Children/Italy

Primary Contact: Luma Nath Adhikari and Sanu Lal Maharjan

Country: Nepal Project Dates: 2011 to 2015

Interventions: Incorporate explicit nutrition objectives and indicators, Assess the context at the local level, Target the vulnerable and improve equity, Collaborate and coordinate with other sectors, Empower women, Facilitate production diversification, Expand markets and market access for vulnerable groups, Incorporate nutrition promotion and education,

Target Population: Children under 5, Mothers,

Project Stage: Ongoing activities

Geographic Coverage: State/Province