Nutrition for infants and young children

During emergencies (such as earthquakes, conflict or floods), children are especially vulnerable to malnutrition, illness and death. They are highly dependent on their caregivers, their immune systems are still developing, and their bodies and brains depend on good nutrition for healthy growth and development. In emergencies, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) is a life-saving intervention. Infants should be breastfed within one hour of birth, breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life and continue to be breastfed up to two years of age and beyond. Starting at six months, breastfeeding should be combined with safe, age-appropriate feeding of solid, semi-solid and soft foods.

Global Thematic Working Group

the IFE Core Group

The Infant Feeding in Emergencies (IFE) Core Group is a global collaboration of agencies and individuals that formed in 1999 to address policy guidance and training resource gaps hampering programming on infant and young child feeding support in humanitarian contexts. The IFE Core Group does not directly implement programmes but rather works to develop guidance and resource materials; documents lessons learned and builds capacity to ensure more effective infant and young child feeding (IYCF) support in emergency contexts (IYCF-E). The IFE Core Group members bring challenges and issues to the collective membership for peer support and guidance to facilitate rapid application of up-to-date experience in operations and to connect on-the-ground experiences with the development of agency and global policy guidance.

The IFE Core Group is coordinated by the Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN). Current members of the Group include: ACF, ADRA, CDC, CGBI, CHEERing, Concern Worldwide, Eleanor Crook Foundation, ENN, Global Nutrition Cluster, Goal, IBFAN, IMC, IOCC, IRC, MSF, SafelyFed Canada, Samaritan’s Purse, Save the Children, UNHCR, UNICEF, USAID, USAID/OFDA, WFP, WHO, World Vision, and a number of independent individuals.

Latest IFE Core Group update

The IFE Core Group is currently focussing on issues related to IYCF-E in relation to COVID-19. Main discussion points during meetings over the last three months have related to: 1) updates from UNICEF/WHO on any new guidance/initiatives related to COVID-19, 2) research updates on COVID-19 and IYCF regularly provided by Hopkins University/CDC/WHO, 3) updates from GNC Technicall Alliance or PAT members on programmatic adaptations and 4) member updates on programmatic adaptations on IYCF in the context of COVID-19.

The IFE Core Group hosts the Programmatic Adaptations Team (PAT) on IYCF in the context of COVID-19 and is currently working on identified issues and suggested actions for adaptations. Issues related to violation of the Code in the context of COVID-19 have been discussed during monthly meetings highlighting the need to monitor and report on the effect of the pandemic on marketing of BMS.

Key Resources