Nutrition for Women and Children

The 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday offers a unique opportunity to shape not only a child’s future, but the future of a society. The right nutrition during this crucial period can have an enormous impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and develop to his or her full potential. In order to break intergenerational cycles of malnutrition, there is a need to broaden the focus on improving the nutrition of adolescent girls and women (pre-pregnancy as well as during pregnancy).

Despite the considerable progress made over the past decades, millions of children are still affected by acute and chronic malnutrition and many more are suffering from some degree of sub-optimal health and/or development due to micronutrient deficiencies. Poor complementary feeding is a significant driver of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency which leads to stunting.  Globally 159 million children are stunted and more than 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.

GAIN’s MIYCN program aims to protect and promote optimal breastfeeding and dietary diversity in close collaboration with governments, food producers and NGO’s in order to address stunting and micronutrient deficiency amongst mothers and children and adolescents. We work to improve access to and utilization of high-quality, affordable nutritious foods and food supplements for women and children, strengthening delivery channels which are both sustainable and scalable.

Recognizing the complexity of malnutrition, GAIN seeks opportunities to integrate the focus on complementary feeding with critical interventions such as water, sanitation and hygiene interventions (WASH) and approaches to support women’s social and economic empowerment.


Building on 9 years of experience, GAIN has learned valuable lessons on how to strengthen supply of and create demand for nutritious foods and supplements for mothers and young children, within a public health context. We having worked on effective delivery of MNP’s in nine countries, and we have worked with over ten profit and non-for-profit organisations on production and distribution of fortified complementary foods. We are developing approaches to create nutrition-friendly workplaces for women and are investing to fill the knowledge gap and improve understanding on how to improve nutritional status of adolescent girls. Aiming for impact, scale and sustainability, GAIN co-designs and co-creates projects in partnership with other actors, based on a robust learning agenda, which allows close monitoring of progress and timely course correcting, where and when needed.

Our interventions focus on:

  • Systems and consumer-centric approaches to shaping the market and the regulatory environment for fortified nutritious foods and supplements
  • Effective delivery models driving compliant utilization of multi-nutrient powders
  • Multi-channel social and behaviour change interventions with a touch of commercial marketing approaches, through mass-media, social media, mobile phone technology, community activation and interpersonal counselling.
  • Integrating nutrition interventions with social and economic empowerment of women, for example the production of complementary foods by women groups, improving nutrition of female workers in industry.



Over the past 9 years, GAIN’s MIYCN programs have reached a cumulative 20 million children and pregnant women with more nutritious foods, with ongoing projects reaching 584,000 in 2015.

Key achievements include:

  1. Innovative business models
  2. Demand creation and behaviour change
  3. Creating an enabling environment

Co-organising the Designing the Future of Nutrition Social Behaviour Change Conference with USAID / SPRING and the development of a strategic agenda.





Lessons learned on Infant and Young Child Nutrition 

First 1000 Days Learning and Development Toolkit

Hystra Report: Marketing nutrition for the base of the pyramid


Country Case studies

Cote d’Ivoire: Investing in Cote d’Ivoire: Entrepreneur to ensure children’s first foods are fortified

India: Decentralised Production Of Fortified Blended Complementary Food In India

India: Better business practices boost Indian Government efforts to provide nutritious foods in Andhra Pradesh

India: Empowering women entrepreneurs to produce fortified foods for mothers and children in Rajasthan

Kenya: Home Fortification in Kenya: Lessons from Implementation at County Level

mNutrition: Project brief & GSMA multi-country Landscape Analyses

South Africa: Behaviour Change and Home Fortification to Improve Nutrition in South Africa

Vietnam: An Innovative Delivery Model for Home Fortification of Complementary Foods with Micronutrient Powders in Vietnam


Guidelines and Toolkit

Using the Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes to Guide the Marketing of Complementary Foods

Nutritional Guidelines for Complementary Foods and Complementary Food Supplements

Product Quality Monitoring Procedures for Products supported by GAIN


GAIN-supported supplements in peer-reviewed journals

Food and Nutrition Bulletin 2009: Maximizing impacts on child growth and micronutrient status by focusing on maternal nutrition, delivery practices, and improved infant and young child feeding

Food and Nutrition Bulletin 2010: Programs and policies to improve maternal, infant, and young child nutrition in developing countries

Maternal and Child Nutrition 2011: Consequences of Malnutrition in Early Life and Strategies to Improve Maternal and Child Diets through Targeted Fortified Products

Maternal and Child Nutrition 2013: Enhancing Young Child Feeding in Developing Countries

Maternal and Child Nutrition 2015: Using implementation research for evidence-based programme development: a case study from Kenya


GAIN co-authored articles in peer-reviewed journals

Complementary Feeding

Alison Tumilowicz, Courtney Held Schnefke, Lynnette M. Neufeld and Gretel H. Pelto (2017)  Toward a better understanding of adherence to micronutrient powders: generating theories to guide program design and evaluation based on a review of published results, Current Developments in Nutrition Journal, cdn.117.001123, DOI:

Saskia JM Osendarp, Britt Broersen, Marti J van Liere, Luz De-Regil, Lavannya Bahirathan, Eva Klassen, and Lynnette M. Neufeld (2016) Complementary Feeding Diets Made of Local Foods Can Be Optimized, but Additional Interventions Will Be Needed to Meet Iron and Zinc Requirements in 6- to 23-Month-Old Children in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Food and Nutrition Bulletin 1-27, DOI: 10.1177/0379572116655239

Marie Nguyen, Alia Poonawala, Magali Leyvraz, Jacques Berger, Dominic Schofield, Tran Thuy Nga, Tran Khan Van, Do Thi Bao Hoa and Frank Tammo Wieringa (2016). A Delivery Model for Home Fortification of Complementary Foods with Micronutrient Powders: Innovation in the Context of Vietnamese Health System Strengthening. Nutrients 2016, 8, 259; doi:10.3390/nu8050259

Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC)

Sian White, Wolf Schmidt, Daniel Sahanggamu, Dewi Fatmaningrum, Marti van Liere and Val Curtis (2016). Can gossip change nutrition behaviour? Results of a mass media and community-based intervention trial in East Java,Indonesia. Tropical Medicine and International Health, doi:10.1111/tmi.12660

Gretel H Pelto · Stephanie L Martin · Marti J van Liere ·Cecilia S Fabrizio. (2015). Perspectives and reflections on the practice of behaviour change communication for infant and young child feeding. Jul 2015 Maternal and Child Nutrition

Gretel H. Pelto · Stephanie L. Martin · Marti Van Liere ·Cecilia S. Fabrizio (2015). The scope and practice of behaviour change communication to improve infant and young child feeding in low- and middle-income countries: Results of a practitioner study in international development organizations, Apr 2015 · Maternal and Child Nutrition

Cecilia S Fabrizio · Marti van Liere · Gretel Pelto (2014). Identifying determinants of effective complementary feeding behavior change interventions in developing countries. May 2014 · Maternal and Child Nutrition

Shibani Ghosh, Kwaku Tano-Debrah, Grant J. Aaron, Gloria Otoo, Nicholas Strutt, Kennedy Bomfeh,3 Satoshi Kitamura, Devika J. Suri, Hitoshi Murakami, Chie Furuta,Daniel Sarpong, F. Saalia, Youzou Nakao, Harold Amonoo-Kuofi, Ricardo Uauy, Yasuhiko Toride (2014). Improving complementary feeding in Ghana: reaching the vulnerable through innovative business—the case of KOKO Plus
Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1331 (2014) 76–89, doi: 10.1111/nyas.12596.

Arnaud Laillou, Jacques Berger, Bach Mai Le, Van Thuy Pham, Thi Hop Le, Cong Khan Nguyen,

Dora Panagides, Fabian Rohner, Frank Wieringa, Regina Moench-Pfanner (2012). Improvement of the Vietnamese Diet for Women of Reproductive Age by Micronutrient Fortification of Staples Foods and Condiments. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50538. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050538.

Arnaud Laillou, Thuy Van Pham, Nga Thuy Tran, Hop Thi Le, Frank Wieringa, Fabian Rohner,

Sonia Fortin, Mai Bach Le, Do Thanh Tran, Regina Moench-Pfanner, Jacques Berger (2012) Micronutrient Deficits Are Still Public Health Issues among Women and Young Children in

Vietnam. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34906. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034906.


Consumer insights and formative research reports

Conference Report on Designing the Future of Nutrition Social Behaviour Change Conference with USAID / SPRING and the Strategic Agenda

“Embodying the Future: How to improve the nutrition status of adolescent girls in Pakistan?”, June 2017

Infant and Young Child Feeding in Rural Bangladesh: Perspectives from a focused ethnographic study

Improving childhood nutrition by changing feeding practices in Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia: A GAIN Formative Research & Design Study

Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Formative Research in Sidoarjo, Indonesia May 2013

Formative research study on nutrition of young women in Sidoarjo and Malang districts, East Java, Indonesia

Landscape Report on Adolescent and Maternal Nutrition in Indonesia, July 2014

Focused ethnographic study on assessing the behavioral and local market environment for improving the diets of infants and young children 6 to 23 months old in Ghana, South Africa and Afghanistan

Balancing nurturance, cost and time: complementary feeding in Accra, Ghana

GSMA multi-country Landscape Analyses