Some community-based organisations have commended a non-governmental organisation, Alive & Thrive, for addressing nutrition issues affecting mothers and children at the grassroots in Lagos State through its Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Project.

In 2022, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Alive &Thrive, launched the MIYCN project to increase access to high-quality maternal, infant and young children’s nutrition services in seven states of Nigeria – Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Sokoto and Yobe.

The NGO is partnering with the CBOs to implement the MIYCN project in communities across the seven states.

The organisations, which gave commendation during media visits organised by Alive and Thrive to evaluate its MIYCN project in Lagos, described the project as a cost-effective maternal and child nutrition intervention.

The CBOs noted that the project played an important role in improving the health of mothers and their children in the state.

The monitoring and Evaluation Officer of Chamagne Foundation, Mr. Hassan Yusuf, said the MIYCN project had helped the foundation to improve the nutritional status of people in communities.

“The Alive and Thrive project has helped us to improve nutritional status and boost the nutritional needs of vulnerable children by engaging the communities including Alimosho, Mushin and Badagry LGAs in Lagos.

“Initially we noticed that some women prefer to go to traditional birth healers to take their delivery but with the MYICN project, we have been able to link more women to the various PHCs,” Yusuf said.

Community Gatekeepers

Executive Director, The Neo Child Initiative for Africa, Dr. Cassandra Akinde, said, “In terms of the partnership, we have really enjoyed the journey so far.

“Our partnership began last year in October when we announced to be a sub-grantee of Alive and Thrive and so far, it has been fruitful, specifically in terms of visibility because our work is now more visible both locally and internationally, and in terms of our social media presence and community presence in Lagos.

“Also in terms of our impact, we have really enjoyed the partnership because we are no longer targeting just the primary target audience, who are children and their caregivers, now we are looking at our secondary target, which includes family members, healthcare workers, community members and also tertiary target audience.

“These include community gatekeepers which are very important in the community as they are influencers.

Most importantly is the capacity building area which Alive and Thrive was very clear right from the onset and we really enjoyed that aspect.”

The Neo Child Initiative for Africa is a non-profit organisation with a focus on child health from low-income families/ marginalized homes

Also speaking, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of Good Women Foundation, Omolayo Ogunyemi, said the project has positively impacted pregnant women, lactating mothers and infants.

Effective Nutrition Interventions

Ogunyemi explained, “We work with Apapa and Lagos Island Local Governments. We have visited almost all the facilities in these LGAs and have met with the officers in charge, so we go there to sensitise breastfeeding mothers.

“We have been able to redirect our services towards the MIYCN programme, where we support healthcare officers in the facilities. For Apapa, we have eight facilities’ on Lagos Island, we have eleven facilities.

“Whenever they have antenatal clinics, we go there to do supportive supervision and listen to key messages they pass to pregnant and lactating mothers in antenatal and postnatal care services.”

She noted that facility health workers were also trained by Alive and Thrive on everything they needed to know about MICYN.

“So, through our monitoring and supervision post-training, we have noticed some changes in what they do and how they do it at these facilities”, Ogunyemi added.

The CBOs according to Director of Alive & Thrive Nigeria country programme, Victor Ogbodo, work in the hearts of communities where malnutrition and undernutrition are prevalent.

“They have valuable local knowledge and experience working in these communities that is key to implementing effective nutrition interventions. Our collaboration with the CBOs is beneficial to all concerned.

“The organisations help improve MIYCN service delivery with their insights and ideas gleaned from years of working in the communities, while we help them increase their capacities in relevant areas. And, most importantly, community residents benefit from all of this”, Ogbodo said.

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