Our focus

Child health

Healthy children come from healthy communities.

We combine water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) with nutrition and care, especially for mothers and children, to reduce undernutrition and disease.

Combining elements for child health

We focus on preventing undernutrition (stunting) and disease in children under five.

Stunting is a key indicator for child health. In south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, one in three children are stunted. Stunting, being too small for one’s age, can cause long-term mental and physical disabilities. The good news is, it’s largely preventable, with good diet and hygiene for mothers and young children (especially the first 1,000 days).

Our Healthy Village approach facilitates good hygiene, sanitation, safe drinking water, a nutritious diet and essential care for mother and child.

Behaviour change. Community-wide.

We mobilize the whole community towards the common goal of child health.  Caregivers monitor child growth using growth charts, and learn behaviours from peers that support raising healthy children. Seeing your child stunted, and wanting him or her to grow up healthy, is a powerful trigger for change.

We stimulate supply and demand for products and services that help families be healthy. Local entrepreneurs become catalysts for change.  Healthy Villages are officially designated by local government once they meet and maintain key  criteria.

Read more about the Healthy Village here

The Healthy Village approach

Our impact

Community voices

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The year that changed everything

Suisaya's story Expand article

Suisaya is in class four of the Yangsa School in Golkhali (Bangladesh). One year ago, there were no water and sanitation facilities at her school. She did not have anything to drink all day and when she had to go to the toilet, she walked into the field. As a girl, she always felt vulnerable. Max Foundation worked with school management to fix this.

Now, there is a water well in the school yard and separate latrines for girls and boys. Since then, children at her school suffer less from diarrhoea. Hygiene education also contributed: all children learned to wash their hands after visiting the toilets.

When we ask Suisaya about this, she says with a big smile: “I wash my hands when I have visited the latrine. You get ill if you don’t. I like to wash my hands.”

Growing out of stunting, step by step

Jibon's story Expand article

Jibon is the youngest of three brothers living in the north-east of Bangladesh. His mother has her hands full running the household and looking after her children. Jibon’s father leaves the house early in the morning to seek work. As a day laborer, he has a hard time providing for his family. When his parents found out Jibon was severely stunted during a growth monitoring session, they realized they had to improve their baby’s health.

Together with other family members, they improved their hygiene habits to help Jibon grow healthy.

His mother attended courtyard sessions of the community health promoter. There she learned about good sanitation, hygiene and nutrition habits. Jibon loves to eat foods like eggs, milk, and khichuri, which have high nutritional value. Jibon’s health is gradually improving, from severely to moderately stunted, and on the right track.

Jibon’s parents saved money to build a latrine. Later on, the family invested in a handwashing device and soap. These healthy practices improved the well-being of the whole family.

From the yellow, to the green zone

Rubina's story Expand article

Rubina Begum lives in Chalitabunia village in Patuakhali, Bangladesh. Her first child is 6 months old. His name is Hasib. Rubina is so happy since the pregnancy and birth of her child. She signed up for growth monitoring.

Soon after, Rubina participated in a courtyard meeting about stunting. Her son’s height and weight were measured in the session. The results were not good. Hasib was in the yellow zone in both height and weight charts. Rubina became very concerned. She heard from the meeting that it is possible to change this within the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (from pregnancy to 2 years).

Rubina took steps immediately: washing her hands with soap and water before feeding her child and after cleaning his bottom. Washing the  family’s clothes and sheets regularly. Cleaning her baby’s hands and trying to keep him from putting dirty objects into his mouth.

Since then, Hasib has moved from the yellow zone to the green zone on the growth charts. Rubina is now quite happy. She will continue monitoring Hasib’s growth through visits to the nearest health clinic.