International evidence shows that chronic malnutrition is best addressed by interventions targeting the first 1,000 days (pregnancy and the first two years of life). Our participatory nutrition education programs and capacity-building methods focus on nutrition during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, the introduction of complementary foods after six months of age with continued breastfeeding until the child is at least two years, and using locally available food to prepare nutritious meals. Women are taught adequate and hygienic food handling as part of this process. Nutritious snacks using traditional foods such as amaranth are provided at all of the community activities. To facilitate mothers’ participation, we train local youth in early stimulation techniques, which the youth then use to care for children while their mothers attend the workshops.
By the time we leave a community, the vast majority of participating mothers practice exclusive breast-feeding. Up to 80 percent of participating families have incorporated new nutritional foods into their diets, including vegetables and meat, at least twice a week.