Improving Maternal and Child Nutrition

The Challenge

A pregnant woman who is malnourished is more likely to give birth to a malnourished baby. Her baby is also at higher risk of dying due to the dangerous effects of malnutrition. The mother, herself, is also at greater risk of death during childbirth, especially if she is anemic.

Children are at the greatest risk for malnutrition during their first 1,000 days—or from conception to their second birthday. Proper nutrition during this critical development stage can mean the difference between life and death. 

For children who survive, malnutrition often leads to lifelong damage including an increased risk of blindness and mental and physical developmental delays. These children are also susceptible to common childhood diseases like diarrhea and measles.


Our Solution

Helen Keller International targets young children and their mothers with proven Essential Nutrition Actions that provide the right nutrition support at the time it is most needed.  In many developing nations, harmful feeding practices sometimes based on local beliefs exist alongside poor hygiene and sanitation conditions.

In the developing world, children under five and pregnant and lactating women are at greatest risk of the devastating effects of malnutrition, which can often lead to death.

Our programs educate women about the best nutrition practices for every stage—from the best foods to eat for a healthy pregnancy, to the value of breastfeeding from their child’s first day through their second birthday to protect them from life-threatening infections, to choosing nutrient-rich foods for their children once they reach the crucial six month mark. Our programs also engage husbands and other family members to help ensure these positive nutrition practices are kept for years to come.  In addition, we provide education and resources to improve daily hygiene and sanitation in impoverished communities.

The ARCH Project 

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, HKI is implementing the Assessment & Research on Child Feeding (ARCH) Project, which is conducting research in Cambodia, Nepal, Senegal and Tanzania on how breast-milk substitutes and commercial complementary foods for infants and children are promoted.  We share our data to inform decision-makers who oversee policies and programs to improve the nutritional status of infants and young children. Through the ARCH Project, Helen Keller International is informing policies that promote breastfeeding around the world and continuing our our mission to prevent the causes and consequences of malnutrition with effective programs throughout Africa and Asia to educate women about the best nutrition practices for every stage of their child’s development. 

Program Locations

Burkina Faso
Côte d’Ivoire
Sierra Leone