Buniyaad: Reducing infant mortality in Bihar through optimal infant feeding practices

Duration: 2012–2015

Location: Samastipur district, Bihar

Implemented in six blocks of Samastipur district, the project aimed to reduce neonatal and infant mortality through improving breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices for children up to two years of age. A strong behaviour change communication (BCC) component was implemented through 150 community consultants who acted as peer educators and supervisors.

The project ended on 31 March 2015. In three years of implementation, it reached over 100,000 mothers from the poorest and most marginalized communities through 106,980 group meetings and 154,849 home visits. It mobilized and empowered mothers and care-givers to adopt good infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices. Peer educators supported mothers in overcoming infant feeding problems. The focused BCC effort of this project, targeting a specific area of health practice, achieved impact.

The project coordinated with block and district health and ICDS authorities to involve ASHAs and anganwadi workers in project activities. Buniyaad trained these frontline workers on IYCF and enhanced their ability to address IYCF as a part of their routine responsibilities.

Case Study

Sanjida Khatoon and her nine-month old daughter in Balbhadrapur village, Ujiarpur block, Samastipur district. Sanjida is deaf and dumb and shies away from community meetings and gatherings. During the last trimester of her fourth pregnancy, Shahina Praveen, a persuasive peer educator from the Buniyaad project invited her to attend group meetings with other pregnant women. At the meetings, despite her disability, she learnt all about IYCF. Buniyaad's highly illustrated material helped. Sanjida's baby girl was delivered on 26 July 2014 at the primary health centre in Ujiarpur. Her baby was put to the breast as soon as she was born. Shahina regularly visited Sanjida at home to advise and support her to exclusively breastfeed the little one. When the baby became six months old, Sanjida learned how to prepare nutritious, pre-mixed powders to feed her daughter. Sanjida says her baby is healthy because of Shahina’s help and guidance.