Commercially produced complementary foods are available in most countries but little is known on how markets can be harnessed to contribute to appropriate infant and young child feeding (IYCF). The objective of this paper is to better understand the complex architecture of projects aiming to shape and strengthen markets such that they measurably contribute to infant and young child nutrition.
A program impact pathway (PIP) methodology was used to describe the architecture of market-based approaches in general and then specifically applied to a project in Côte d’Ivoire. Between 2008 and 2015 GAIN with partners, initiated a program to improve access to and increase awareness of appropriate IYCF including creating a protective regulatory environment for breast feeding. The project specifically aimed to improve the availability and affordability of commercial fortified complementary foods and strengthening product quality standards. This case study, using the PIP, helped to demonstrate how and where aspects in implementation are strong, which ones are weak and require strengthening.
The PIP for the Côte d’Ivoire project was only developed in hindsight, based on the lessons learned. Even though the key interventions were executed as defined in the theory of change, the results were not measurable in terms of coverage, consumption, or nutrition impact. The detailed PIP revealed that key handovers had been missed during implementation, especially regarding advocacy and demand creation activities. Some implicit assumptions had been made, prior to implementation, which were later proven false.
Developing a PIP, up-front, can provide a powerful conceptual architecture for designing, implementing and course-correcting market-based nutrition programs and mitigate risks as checkpoints can be built into the contracting process.