NUTRITION IMPROVEMENTS THROUGH CASH AND HEALTH EDUCATION [NICHE]
The Nutrition Improvements through Cash and Health Education (NICHE) Programme is designed to improve the nutritional status of children in the first 1,000 days of life, through intense nutritional counselling and additional cash to eligible households that are already recipients of the Government of Kenya (GoK) Cash Transfers under the National Safety Net Programmes (NSNP).
In the pilot phase implemented in Kitui County, the programme (NICHE) provided a top-up of Kshs 500 (approximately 5 USD) per target child under 24 months and/or a pregnant woman – capped at Kshs 1,000 (approximately USD 10) per household per month. The top-up was aligned to the NSNP payment mechanisms. Targeted households also received nutritional counselling from Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). The CHVs delivered specific nutrition messages to encourage the adoption of optimal health and nutrition practices related to the care of young children and pregnancy.
According to findings from the evaluation of the pilot phase, the programme demonstrated a positive improvement in the health and well-being of children under 24 months, pregnant women and caregivers – despite the relatively short time span of implementation. Some of the most important gains included: improvements in the rates of exclusive breastfeeding; an enhancement in the quality of diet; greater use of handwashing, water treatment and improved sanitation facilities; and a reduction in the incidence of illness.