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IMG 6166

Working with Unilever, Group M, Cargill and Norad to engage mothers on nutrition and hygiene through technology in India

This programme takes an innovative approach to addressing malnutrition; through mobile technology, it improves nutrition and hygiene for families in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

PARTNERS

  • Unilever
  • GroupM
  • Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
  • Cargill
  • CIFF
  • UK Aid
  • Government of Gujarat
  • Government of Utter Pradesh

SDGS SUPPORTED

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health & Wellbeing
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 17 - Partnership for the Goals

CONVENED FUNDS

$6.5m

LOCATION

India – states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh

DATES

2019 - 2024

Introduction

India contributes to a third of the global burden of undernutrition. It has alarmingly high levels of malnutrition, with one in three (32%) children underweight and only 11% receiving an adequate diet. As a consequence, India’s mortality rate for children under five is as high as 42%.

What’s more, those numbers are worse in particularly rural regions, which is why this programme focuses on the rural states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

Given India’s population size, investing in actions to reduce all forms of malnutrition is particularly important, not just for the health and wellbeing of children in India, but to also support the attainment of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

Programme overview

The Power of Nutrition convened partners (Unilever, Norad, GroupM along with the local state government) to create an innovative programme, named Dr Didi, that uses mobile phones to improve hygiene and nutrition. Leveraging Unilever and GroupM's experience in marketing as well as The Power of Nutrition’s technical nutrition expertise, the partnership utilises the group’s knowledge to create this unique programme. Through on-the-ground interventions and a unique voice-based service, pregnant women and mothers receive critical information around nutrition and hygiene where access to correct health information is limited. Working hand-in-hand with the local government, the programme supports India’s overarching scheme for holistic nutrition (POSHAN Abhiyaan, or National Nutrition Mission).

The success of the programme in Gujarat prompted Cargill to join the partnership and support an expansion to the state of Uttar Pradesh. The programme has since been reinforced with messaging on adequate protein intake (through the partnership with Cargill) for mothers and children as it continues to be a concern in Uttar Pradesh.

Programme interventions

Mobile messaging

Using mobile phones to deliver messaging on a range of topics, including exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, diet diversity and handwashing practices to support the health of children under five and their families.

Social and behavioural change

Shifting knowledge and attitudes around child feeding and other targeted topics through the support of local health workers and community influencers. This includes in-person, engaging and interactive workshops, community events and mobile-based nudges.

Early results

A recent sample survey shows that participants’ behaviour is starting to shift as a result of the programme’s work. For example, in both states there have been improvements in diet diversity for children. In Uttar Pradesh, there’s been a 34% rise in the inclusion of mashed vegetables in infants’ diets; in Gujarat this figure is 12%. Similarly, for handwashing with soap, there’s been a 30% increase. In Gujarat awareness about the need to wash hands with soap after using the toilet has risen by 14%.


A community demonstration in the Dr Didi programme, Gujarat

Om Prakash's story

Om Prakash, a small spice vendor was excited to talk about what he learnt from the programme. Our team encountered him as he checked his produce in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. The team was checking if the programme’s primary target group understood the concepts discussed during programme activities.

Om Prakash
Om Prakash, a spice vendor and participant in the Dr. Didi programme

Om Prakash shared that he is from a nearby village called Jatayu Patti and he had participated in the programme, along with his wife. They have two small children - one son, three years old, and one daughter, aged nine months. Om Prakash wanted his children to grow and develop healthily and insisted that the team visits his home to meet his wife and children who have started listening to the programme’s stories through its digital platform.

Since he was so excited, the team visited his home and met the family. They shared that they liked the nukkad natak (street play) during the village launch and immediately registered to make the ‘missed call’, which provided access to the programme’s free services. They learnt that handwashing with soap can help to prevent infections. They wanted to understand this in more detail and started listening regularly to the stories on the digital platform.

Om Prakash demonstrates handwashing with soap with his child
Om Prakash demonstrates handwashing with soap with his child

His wife participated in the programme’s activities when the team visited their village – learning about the different needs and priorities for child development. This included complementary feeding, dietary diversity and handwashing with soap. She received information cards and practised healthy behaviours as outlined in the cards. They also made changes to the family’s diet to include more green vegetables. They have started to give complementary food to their nine month old child.

We also have programmes in Gujarat which you can read about here, as well as a programme in Maharashtra which you can read about here.

PROGRAMME IMPACT

Progress to date

3.3m

mothers to be reached

3k

villages reached