What’s the biggest impact that the USAID WASH and Nutrition project had? You could argue it’s the reduction in stunting, or the improvement in clean drinking water. But communities tell a different story. They say that the change is how they understand that women’s empowerment is related to their children’s health. The project, “opened our eyes and allowed us to see the link between malnutrition and our cooking practices on one hand, and between malnutrition and women’s financial empowerment on the other hand.”
The USAID WASH and Nutrition Project ran from 2013-2019 with $14.8 million from USAID in Mali. The project reached 878,128 people directly and 2.3 million indirectly.
What did we accomplish?
- Kids have healthier weights: Stunting (being too short for your age) went down 40%, wasting (being too thin for your height) was cut in half), and underweight went down 70%).
- Kids are healthier: The number of kids getting diarrhea dropped 51%.
- Kids are eating better: Kids are 5 times more likely to have an acceptable diet, and exclusive breastfeeding for kids under 6 months doubled.
- Families have clean water: People are 43% more likely to have clean drinking water. They are also twice as likely to treat their drinking water.
- Communities are cleaner: Families are 2.5 times more likely to have soap, and 84% more likely to dispose of waste safely.
- Women are able to make more decisions: Women are 3 times more likely to be involved in decisions on child health and on spending at home.
- Women are more mobile: Women are 42% more likely to be able to leave the village alone, and 73% more likely to be allowed to go to trainings alone.
How did we get there?
- Work with local groups: The project worked with community health volunteers, savings groups, local masons (who build latrines), and other community structures to spread messages and build buy-in for the work.
- Get community ownership, and women leaders: Local nutrition and WASH committees helped create community action plans about how to resolve challenges around WASH and nutrition. The project also made sure to include women leaders in committees and other community structures.
- Work through national data systems: The project bought into the national health data collection system, and helped the team and community members understand how to use and learn from the existing system rather than building a parallel system.
- Use savings groups: The project worked with savings groups to spread nutrition messages, and communities started creating their own savings groups without additional project support because they were so excited by the success of the existing groups.
Want to learn more?
Check out the final evaluation.