• developing country;
  • infant and young child nutrition;
  • national policies;
  • nutrition programs;
  • monitoring and evaluation;
  • West Africa;
  • Niger


Due to limited progress towards reducing mortality and malnutrition among children <5 years of age, an alliance of international agencies joined to ‘Reposition children's right to adequate nutrition in the Sahel,’ starting with a situational analysis of current activities related to infant and young child nutrition (IYCN). The main objectives of this analysis are to compile, analyse, and interpret available information on infant and child feeding and the nutrition situation of children <2 years of age in Niger, as one of the six targeted countries. Between August and November 2008, key informants responsible for conducting IYCN-related activities in Niger were interviewed, and 90 documents were examined on: optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, prevention of micronutrient deficiencies, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, management of acute malnutrition, food security, and hygienic practices. The results reported are limited by the availability of documents for review. Mortality rates are on track to reaching the Millennium Development Goal to reduce mortality among young children by two-thirds by 2015, but there has been no change in undernutrition, and total mortality rates are still high among young children. Nearly all of the key IYCN topics were addressed, specifically or generally, in national policy documents, training materials, and programmes. A national nutrition council meets regularly to coordinate programme activities nationally. Many of the IYCN-related programmes are intended for national coverage, but few reach this coverage. Monitoring and impact evaluations were conducted on some programmes, but few of these reported on whether the specific IYCN components of the programme were implemented as designed or compared outcomes with non-intervention sites. Human resources have been identified as inadequate to fully carry out nutrition programmes in Niger. Due to these limitations, we could not confirm whether the lack of progress in reducing malnutrition was due to ineffective or inadequately implemented programmes, though both of these were likely contributors. The policy framework is well established for the promotion of optimal IYCN practices, but greater resources and capacity building are needed to: (i) increase human capacities to carry out nutrition programmes; (ii) expand and track the implementation of evidence-based programmes nationally; (iii) improve and carry out monitoring and evaluation that identify effective and ineffective programmes; and (iv) apply these findings in developing, expanding, and improving effective programmes.