The Stronger With Breastmilk Only initiative has successfully set or reset the agenda of governments and partners on the work on breastfeeding - but the process of implementing the initiative and all the strategies surrounding it is far from complete in many of the countries, according to an evaluation of the initiative's set up or implementation in four countries. The evaluation examined how the initiative was set up and/or implemented and how it contributed to strengthening the policy and programmatic environment for breastfeeding in four West and Central African countries: Senegal, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Chad.
The evaluation notes that although several laws or policies, national strategies or budgeted operational plans were developed, validated and approved, there is a danger of assuming that their existence will necessarily lead to their implementation. Now finding themselves in the crucial implementation phase of the initiative, the country actors look forward to continued support from the initiative's Regional Team. However, the evaluation also found that it is not necessary to have a large, locally based team available on a consistent basis to be able to support country teams in their efforts. The UNICEF and WHO teams that remain on the ground in those countries can play a significant role in continuing to catalyze these efforts in the Region, which is essential considering the aggressiveness of the marketing by the BMS industry.