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Sierra Leone: Getting beyond nutrition as “a women’s issue”
Richard Mallett and Lisa Denney
Briefing Paper
Sierra Leone

This briefing paper demonstrates how childcare is influenced by a range of household actors in Sierra Leone, and sets out what efforts to prevent malnutrition can do to engage with this reality.

Key messages: 

  • Promoting good child nutrition must go beyond dissemination of infant and young child feeding practices to engage with key influences on mothers’ behaviour.
  • ‘Exclusive’ breastfeeding is rarely exclusive, with traditional remedies frequently given to infants.
  • Decision-making around food distribution, household finances and when to stop breastfeeding is deeply gendered, influencing the ability of women to act on knowledge about appropriate feeding practices. 
  • These social conditions that sustain malnutrition are exacerbated during ‘lean seasons’, when there are greater labour demands, compromised sanitation, and limited coping mechanisms.

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