Adolescent Nutrition Resource Bank
Adolescence is one of the most rapid phases of human growth and development. During this time of their life, adolescents increasingly exercise agency and make important decisions related to their diet, eating, and self-care practices. In 2021, USAID Advancing Nutrition launched an online Adolescent Nutrition Resource Bank to respond to gaps in evidence, approaches, and tools to address adolescent nutritional needs. The Resource Bank now contains nearly 300 programmatic resources to help governments, donors, non-governmental organizations, and other adolescent nutrition stakeholders advocate for, design, implement, deliver, monitor, and evaluate effective adolescent nutrition programs and services. The Resource Bank includes policy documents, implementation and research guidance, case studies, advocacy briefs, service delivery protocols, training guides, social and behavior change materials, monitoring and evaluation forms, and more. These resources have also been sorted into distinct program areas: adolescent engagement; advocacy; capacity strengthening; monitoring, evaluation, and learning; service delivery; social and behavior change; and systems strengthening.
The Resource Bank includes policy documents, implementation and research guidance, case studies, advocacy briefs, service delivery protocols, training guides, social and behavior change materials, monitoring and evaluation forms, and more.
Conducting Formative Research on Adolescent Nutrition: Key Considerations
Adolescent nutrition programming offers a key opportunity to improve adolescents’ nutritional status, their future health, and the health and nutrition of the next generation. The World Health Organization’s 2018 guideline on adolescent nutrition identified gaps in the evidence base on adolescent behaviors and needs, as well as how to tailor programming for targeting adolescents. Taking into consideration the unique needs that adolescents have, USAID Advancing Nutrition developed Conducting Formative Research on Adolescent Nutrition: Key Considerations to fill gaps in the evidence base on adolescent behaviors and guide programmers in conducting formative research on nutrition behaviors with adolescents. The guide further contains an annex with a list of participatory research methods and resources, including an example of how pretesting can generate useful information when time and resources do not allow for formative research.
Several common lessons and best practices for conducting formative research on adolescent nutrition informed the guidance:
- Focus on key behaviors related to adolescent nutrition and their determinants or drivers.
- Collect data primarily using qualitative, participatory methods, such as cognitive mapping and projective techniques.
- Engage adolescents in formative research using approaches such as Youth‑led Participatory Action Research to ensure the research is responsive to adolescent needs and aspirations.
- Tailor data collection to local social and gender norms to ensure adolescents feel comfortable participating and sharing their thoughts (e.g., the choice of location for data collection, using peer interviewers).
- Address additional ethical considerations, including obtaining adolescent assent and parental consent and reducing safety risks.
- Involve data collectors and adolescents in data analysis and interpretation whenever possible.
- Use creative and innovative approaches to share findings with adolescents, communities, and stakeholders.
Strengthening Maternal Nutrition in Health Programs
Optimal maternal nutrition during the first 1,000 days is critically important to improve nutritional status and health outcomes for women and their infants and to reduce the risk of adverse birth outcomes. In 2019, the Maternal and Child Survival Program published Maternal Nutrition Operational Guidance: Program Considerations for Low- and Middle-Income Countries to describe how to design, implement, and strengthen the delivery of maternal nutrition interventions in the health system. In 2020, USAID Advancing Nutrition and the USAID Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Activity in Uganda tested the operational guidance and developed Strengthening Maternal Nutrition in Health Programs: A Guide for Practitioners using input and feedback provided during an external consultation. This guide provides step-by-step recommendations to add or strengthen maternal nutrition components in programs or services delivered by the health system, including actions to strengthen the overall health system and the enabling environment.