Malnutrition among pregnant women and children less than two years old is a major public health concern in Bangladesh. In order to improve the maternal diet practice and to reduce under-nutrition among children less than two years old, the SHIKHA project has been designed and implemented in the Feed the Future zone of Bangladesh in 26 sub-districts of Barisal and Khulna Divisions. The project designed a multi-faceted program, consisting of home visits, health forums, social mobilization, and a mass-media campaign.
Social and behavior change (SBC) interventions have been applied in the past to improve the diets and nutrition of pregnant women and children less than two years. However, knowledge gaps exist regarding the effectiveness of large-scale SBC programs. This study was designed to evaluate the effect of a large-scale SBC project, the SHIKHA intervention, in order to provide a strategic direction for quality improvement and to document the lessons learned during the project.
The SHIKHA project works to reduce undernutrition among pregnant women and children under the age of 2. The project scales up maternal nutrition and infant and young child feeding interventions in 26 subdistricts in Bangladesh.
SHIKHA is a name inspired by the Bangla term, “shisukekhawano,” which means infant and young child feeding. The project is implemented by FHI 360 and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the Feed the Future initiative. BRAC, another project partner, implements community-level activities.
The project focuses on changing feeding practice behaviors through five core interventions:
SHIKHA engages 4,830 community volunteers, 395 community health workers and 667 nutrition workers through BRAC and trains them in maternal nutrition and infant and young child feeding.