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Nutrition at the Center

Nutrition at the Center aimed to reduce anemia in girls and women ages 15 to 49, and stunting and anemia in children from birth to 24 months, by integrating maternal, infant, and early childhood nutrition; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); food security; and women’s empowerment initiatives.


Nutrition at the Center reached mothers, their children, and influential household and community members through an integrated intervention model of malnutrition prevention, care, and support, while working toward the goal of a 13% reduction in anemia in women and children and a 9% decrease in child stunting. Nutrition at the Center reached more than 200,000 women, men, and children through almost 5,400 peer groups – including mother-to-mother support groups, VSLAs, SAA groups, and adolescent girls’ groups.


The integrated components of CARE’s approach include:

Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Nutrition: Achieving large-scale change in these practices is challenging and takes time. To facilitate the process, CARE created “transformative group” platforms that increased the number of mothers receiving nutrition education, created a social environment supporting change, and allowed peers to share experiences and best practices for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and complementary feeding. These groups included mothers’ support groups, male support groups, adolescent girls’ groups, and VSLAs.

Food Security: Nutrition at the Center engaged thousands of households, government officials, and community members on improved food security practices – including trainings and technical support on climate smart agriculture for homestead gardens and food production, developing season calendars, sharing seedlings, and promotion of Vitamin A intake.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): In an effort to improve WASH practices in target communities, Nutrition at the Center engaged VSLA members and mother-to-mother support groups in building household handwashing systems such as “tippy-taps” – a basic handwashing station made from a water bottle or suspended by a rope – to reduce oral-fecal disease transmission in households.

Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equity: Nutrition at the Center used a comprehensive approach to achieve gender equality and worked beyond just women to do so. In addition to reaching women through VSLAs and mother-to-mother support groups, the project engaged with men and influential people through existing platforms, drama groups, and dialogues to question and transform norms around gender. These actions resulted in increased support for women and improved practices around optimum breastfeeding, increased hygiene, and home gardens.

Program Achievements

  • Pregnant and lactating mothers from more than 68,000 households, 4,667 Social Analysis and Action groups (SAA – a process that promotes gender equity through facilitated community dialogue to address norms affecting food and nutrition security), mother-to-mother support groups, and 3,467 Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) received peer support, along with counseling at their households and health facilities, to improve complementary feeding and breastfeeding practices.
  • More than 5,000 government health and agriculture staff, community volunteers, educators, and development agents were trained or supported to assist mothers and caregivers to enhance their own diets and improve feeding and care for their children.

Mothers from more than 68,000 households received support.

More than 5,000 people were trained.

  • More than 5,000 men engaged in VSLA and SAA group sessions or tuned in to radio programs that integrated maternal and early childhood nutrition; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and food security topics, and participated in discussions following each episode.
  • In Benin, 4,000 VSLA members campaigned during World Breastfeeding Week and marched for the integration of nutrition promotion in their local government budget, resulting in the commitment of $2,500 by local authorities of the ministry to support nutrition activities.
  • In Bangladesh, 1,200 adolescent girls from 21 schools and five communities received nutritional counseling and iron/folic acid tablets to prevent anemia and build iron reserves that can help prevent maternal anemia when they become pregnant.
  • More than 10,000 households received technical support to engage in homestead food production, including vegetable gardening and small animal rearing, to ensure year-round access to dietary diversity and animal source foods.