School of Public Health - International Health
Nutrition RISING Initiative for UNICEF East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO)
Work is needed to accelerate progress on improving the diets of infants and young children in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region. A diverse diet can support children to meet nutrient needs for growth and development. Preliminary analyses of national survey data from 7 ESA countries suggest that while variation exists across countries, less than a third of children aged 6-23 months in any country meet the minimum dietary diversity threshold and under 20% meet the criteria of minimal acceptable diet (Nutrition RISING Initiative, 2019). Variation in these indicators within countries remains uncertain, hindering potential targeting of interventions.
Acceptable and feasible approaches to support dietary quality and increase accessibility to diverse foods and social and behavior change communication in the ESA region are needed. Using a mixed methods approach, this research will explore sociocultural and environmental factors influencing patterns of infant feeding across countries in the ESA region. This work will utilize key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and pile sorting activities with families with infants aged 6-23 months to explore community and household level factors that influence patterns of infant feeding, particularly as relating to dietary quality. This research builds upon ongoing collaboration between JHSPH and UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office that aims to help fill research gaps and inform the development of evidence-based programs and policies to support child nutrition in the ESA region.
Advisor/Mentor: Dr. Andrew Thorne-Lyman