USAID funded the 10-year LINKAGES Project (1996–2006) to provide technical information, assistance, and training to organizations on breastfeeding, related complementary feeding and maternal dietary practices, and the lactational amenorrhea method - a modern postpartum method of contraception for women who breastfeed.
The project’s mandate was to demonstrate that exclusive breastfeeding is an achievable goal, improve breastfeeding practices in a wide geographic area in several countries, and document what works at the community level. LINKAGES, managed by the Academy for Educational Development, worked to improve breastfeeding and related practices as a means toward:
LINKAGES supported six long-term, large-scale country programs, reaching populations from 1 million to 15 million. The project helped another 30 countries implement smaller scale community activities, adopt policy initiatives, strengthen the capacity of health providers and community health promoters, conduct behavioral assessments, and develop behavior change communications.
LINKAGES used three major approaches to achieve its objectives:
Global Technical Leadership: advancing policy dialogue and formulation through assessments and advocacy; assessing program impact; conducting cost-effectiveness studies of different interventions; and disseminating technical information on the program art and evidence-based science of breastfeeding and related practices.
Country Programs: supporting the design and implementation of national-level advocacy, district-level programming, community-based counseling, and support groups to achieve measurable results in behavior change.
Mainstreaming: integrating results-oriented behavior change methodology, quality technical information, and supportive policies into organizations' programs and initiatives; partnering with organizations to improve breastfeeding and related practices.
View the Experience LINKAGES and the World LINKAGES publication series for detailed descriptions of these approaches and their results and two slide presentations from LINKAGES’ final dissemination meeting: