The Problem & Our Proposed Solution

The Problem

An estimated 150 million children under the age of 5 are stunted. They are unable to reach their full potential, both physically and cognitively. We all want children to flourish, but to achieve this objective the science is becoming clearer:  improved nutrition alone is not enough.

While adequate nutrition in the first two years is critical to prevent stunting, research points to the role of early childhood development, including early childhood stimulation, to support brain development and to strengthen the impact of nutrition interventions.

Likewise, a growing body of evidence links water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions to improved child growth. While recent studies have created questions around the magnitude of effect, it is unquestionable that a hygienic environment in the early years is an essential building block for child growth and development. We still have a lot to learn about pathways of infection, but we can’t delay action until we know all the answers.

Furthermore, the evidence also shows that development for a child starts from the point of conception, so if we wait to intervene until a child is born we are already behind. An integrated approach that cares for a mother during pregnancy and ensures a safe and hygienic delivery are essential for children to survive and thrive. However, many health facilities lack access to adequate water and sanitation leading to possible infections for both mother and baby.

Experts are addressing two-way integration between the nutrition sector and WASH or early childhood development or health sectors. However, programs or studies rarely put a focus on a fully integrated approach in the early years. Increasingly, we see that to tackle stunting and support child development at scale, we must work together.

Our Proposed Solution

The Clean, Fed & Nurtured Coalition brings together practitioners and researchers in WASH; nutrition; maternal, newborn and child health; and early childhood development to discuss and plan ways to share knowledge and proven approaches and test and improve integration of programming in these areas to promote optimal growth and development for children in the early years. This will ensure that children not only survive but thrive.

Together, we share proven approaches, inspire new solutions, and encourage the free flow of ideas. We help people undertake purposeful, collaborative actions that test innovation and generate new knowledge about integrated programming and research, and help to promote and share that information with implementers and decision makers.