La Caixa Banking Foundation, in alliance with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are working since 2017 in the initiative MOM Project: Improving nutritional conditions of children, pregnant and lactating women among refugees in Ethiopia. Its purpose is treating and preventing malnutrition in children in Ethiopia, including innovative methodologies and technologies, in order to guarantee the right to protection against hunger and malnutrition of refugee populations. The initiative is directly contributing to SDGs 2 and 3.

In 2017, the UNHCR Operation in Ethiopia began to apply an innovative methodology in emergency contexts, called the Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Framework methodology (IYCF), which is based on the prevention of malnutrition, by promoting appropriate feeding practices for infants and young children, throughout Mothers to Mothers support groups and Baby friendly spaces; and developing technological innovation for data monitoring and anaemia diagnosis.

The IYCF has been developed to protect infants and young children in refugee situations and enhance their chances of survival, healthy growth and development. The MOM Project is innovative from the methodologically standpoint, as it the first time IYCF is implemented in an emergency setting. In 2020 this approach has been adapted to the Covid-19 prevention and response measures.

One of the transversal axes of the MOM Project is to promote a culture of both methodological and technological innovation, to achieve greater efficiency, empower people and communities, and advance in sustainability of the results; working not only from the nutrition sector, but also influencing sectors that are closely related to child nutrition: water, sanitation and hygiene, health, livelihoods and farm management.

This CSR initiative addresses internal and external stakeholders at la Caixa Foundation. Corporate on-line volunteering has been incorporated, in order to build capacities of the nutrition actors working in Ethiopia regarding effective external communication of the humanitarian action. Two international conferences have been organized (2019-Barcelona, 2020 on-line), sharing knowledge and raising awareness on innovation addressing humanitarian needs. Caixa clients and citizenship are also informed on the MOM Project via social media and invited to contributing through a crowdfunding platform.

This alliance between La Caixa Foundation and UNHCR has had a greater qualitative and quantitative impact on the lives of refugees thanks to the activities promoted jointly.

As mentioned before, the aim of the MOM Project is to treat and prevent malnutrition in children under 5 years, by improving the nutritional conditions of these children. The main objectives of MOM Project are to remove Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) from the high prevalence range of 10% and reduce Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) below the emergency reference threshold of 2%.

Gambella and Melkadida – Dollo Ado are the regions that host the majority of the refugee population, concentrating 68% of all refugees in Ethiopia. MOM Project had a direct impact in 21 refugee camps in 2019, and in 23 camps in 2018 and 2017. In 2020, the MOM Project has been implemented in a total of 24 camps, of which 12 are located in the Gambella and Melkadida-Dollo Ado regions.

Since its beginning, the MOM Project has been targeting a total of 808.390 beneficiaries, of which 544.791 children under 5 years and 98.313 pregnant and lactating women, going from 130.183 persons in 2017 to 272.150 persons in 2020.

Malnutrition in the regions where MOM Project has been implemented, has been significantly reduced and anaemia rates have improved in all camps. During 2020, the Nutrition Program in Ethiopia has adapted the nutrition strategy, for facing the new circumstances derived from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), like Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) have shown a significant reduction during the years of MOM project implementation. The prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in children under 5 years of age has decreased considerably since 2016. In Gambella, GAM has decreased from 24.5% in 2016 to 22.5% in 2017, to 13.4% in 2018 and to 10.4% in 2019. And in Dollo Ado-Melkadida from 22.4% in 2016 to 14.1% in 2017, to 12.4% in 2018 and 16.8% in 2019.
Four years after its launch, we can see the impact of the MOM project in Gambella and Melkadida regions. Reducing acute malnutrition in a 47%, reducing severe acute malnutrition in a 60%, reducing rates of anaemia in a 23%, and what is the most important: reducing infant mortality in a 36%.

We can proudly say that this long-term alliance is effectively alleviating the suffering of refugee infants and their mothers in Ethiopia. Contributing to leaving no one behind in the path towards the SDGs 2030.