Social value of a nutritional counselling and support program for breastfeeding in urban poor settings, Nairobi

Background: In Kenya, poor maternal nutrition, suboptimal infant and young child feeding practices and high levels of malnutrition have been shown among the urban poor. An intervention aimed at promoting optimal maternal infant and young child nutrition (MIYCN) practices in urban poor settings in Nairobi, Kenya was implemented. The intervention involved home-based counselling of pregnant and breastfeeding women and mothers of young children by community health volunteers (CHVs) on optimal MIYCN practices. This study assesses the social impact of the intervention using a Social Return on Investment (SROI) approach. Methods: Data collection was based on SROI methods and used a mixed methods approach (focus group discussions, key informant interviews, in-depth interviews, quantitative stakeholder surveys, and revealed preference approach for outcomes using value games). Results: The SROI analysis revealed that the MIYCN intervention was assessed to be highly effective and created social value, particularly for mothers and their children. Positive changes that participants experienced included mothers being more confident in child care and children and mothers being healthier. Overall, the intervention had a negative social impact on daycare centers and on health care providers, by putting too much pressure on them to provide care without providing extra support. The study calculated that, after accounting for discounting factors, the input ($USD 419,716) generated $USD 8 million of social value at the end of the project. The net present value created by the project was estimated at $USD 29.5 million. $USD 1 invested in the project was estimated to bring USD$ 71 (sensitivity analysis: USD$ 34-136) of social value for the stakeholders. Conclusion: The MIYCN intervention showed an important social impact in which mothers and children benefited the most. The intervention resulted in better perceived health of mothers and children and increased confidence of mothers to provide care for their children, while it resulted in negative impacts for day care center owners and health care providers.