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1,000 Day Households Concept Takes Hold in Northern Ghana to Prevent Widespread Stunting

While other regions in the country have made great progress on improving nutrition, over 30 percent of children in Ghana’s northern region are stunted, a result of inadequate nutrition during early life that has clear links to poor cognitive development, school performance, and even economic growth at the country level. To compete and prosper in the global market, countries need to invest in better nutrition, particularly during the 1,000 day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday that is so critical for growth and development.

The good news is that stunting is a completely preventable problem and a top objective of the Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s global health efforts, as well as the Feed the Future initiative. In Ghana, SPRING is working to get families and communities on track to ensuring a healthier life for their children, starting with the first 1,000 days.

But children’s health and future livelihoods are impacted by more than what they eat, which is why the SPRING approach goes beyond promoting 1,000 days of good nutrition during pregnancy and early life, and includes a focus on other factors that affect nutrition among children, such as the state of the environment, gender-based violence, early childhood development, disease, and safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

By raising awareness and building engagement to shape 1,000 days-friendly communities, SPRING is mobilizing Ghanaians to create the best environments for children to thrive. One area that has a particularly big impact on child nutrition is access to basic health care among pregnant and lactating women, particularlybecause so many women in Ghana pass anemia to their children during pregnancy.  The SPRING project strengthens health care workers’ ability to provide nutrition counseling to pregnant women and new mothers, an important first step in ensuring good health among breastfeeding infants and young children. SPRING supports both facility and community quality improvements to further 1,000 days outcomes and to bolster buy-in throughout the community.

SPRING also works to improve nutrition-sensitive agriculture and horticulture practices and is the key liaison to the Government of Ghana’s social cash transfer program, as well as a complementary program focused on the well-being of pregnant and lactating women and new mothers.

Through the U.S. Government’s ongoing commitment to nutrition under the Feed the Future initiative and other global health programs, SPRING aims to help children at a time before they can help themselves, enabling them to realize their potential and help Ghana do the same over the long term.

Check out more photos and stories from Ghana.

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