Suaahara was an integrated nutrition project that works in 41 underserved districts in Nepal to improve the health and well-being of the Nepali people by focusing on the nutritional status of women and children under the age of two years.
Suaahara means good nutrition, or “a good balanced diet is the strong foundation protecting our lives.” As part of the implementing team, CCP supported strategic social and behavior change communication initiatives that build on this message and model behavior change to lead to improved maternal, infant and child nutrition.
In close coordination with Nepal government, the team created Bhanchhin Aama (Mother knows best), which served as the basis for a campaign for mass and community media. Bhanchhin Aama is a trusted, knowledgeable friendly mother-in-law character who models and promotes positive behavior change.
Campaign elements included:
- Popular Bhanchhin Aama radio drama and Hello! Bhanchhin Aama phone-in radio programs broadcast twice weekly in three different languages. The show received more than 200,000 calls. The Bhanchhim Aama character also starred in videos shared over mobile phones to demonstrate how to cook for infants and to help parents feed children and take care of them when they are sick.
- Bhanchhin Aama community activities:
- Radio discussion groups among marginalized populations
- Celebration of key life events during the 1,000 days between conception and the age of two, such as a rice feeding ceremony which marks the baby’s first solid food at around six months
- Cooking demonstrations to show couples how to make tasty and nutritious foods for infants using locally sourced ingredients
Suaahara also worked in local journalists to help them to better understand nutrition issues and to improve the quality of the reporting on the topic.
Women who heard the Bhanchhin Aama program were significantly more likely to:
- Have fed their children dark leafy greens in the previous 24 hours
- Exclusively breastfeed until six months
- Have received support from one’s husband or other family member for work often assigned to women (2.5 times likelier)
As a nod to the quality and resonance of the Bhanchhin Aama character, the follow-on to Suaahara under different management has continued to use her stories and voice.
Save the Children (prime); Helen Keller International; Jhpiego; Nepali Technical Assistance Group; Nepal Water for Health; Nutrition Promotion and Consultancy Service