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IYCF-E Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) For Emergency Response Teams

Author: Save the Children and the Nutrition Technical Rapid Response Team (Tech RRT) with the support of the members of the IFE Core Group
Year: 2020
Resource type: Field tool



Breastfeeding is the single most effective intervention to save children’s lives. Thirteen per cent of all deaths among children less than five years could be averted if breastfeeding was practised as recommended, while good complementary feeding could prevent another 6% of deaths.5 Non-breastfed infants are 14 times more likely to die from pneumonia and 10 times more likely to die of diarrhoea than breastfed children.6 There is a need to support IYCF in all humanitarian settings. Increased risks such as poor sanitation, disease outbreaks, infant formula donations, stress and trauma mean that support for appropriate feeding is critical for child survival and the protection of infants and young children. Donation of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) is common during emergencies and this undermines breastfeeding. IYCF-E must be included as one of the first activities of a response and there is opportunity to integrate IYCF-E with other sectors. However, despite the evidence that appropriate and timely support of IYCF-E saves lives, it is rarely prioritised or adequately supported.


This Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is the result of a collaboration of Tech RRT and Save the Children with the support of members of the IFE Core Group. The Tech RRT is a partnership between International Medical Corps, Save the Children and Action Against Hunger working in close collaboration with the Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC), the Global Technical Assistance Mechanism (GTAM) and UNICEF.7 The purpose of creating the Nutrition Tech RRT was to improve the quality of nutrition humanitarian response by deploying skilled advisors to fill technical gaps in countries facing a crisis and providing remote support and building the capacity of nutrition partners. This complements the Rapid Response Team Cluster Coordinators and Information Management Officers of the Global Nutrition Cluster. Tech RRT is a team of experienced technical nutrition advisors (assessment, community-based management of acute malnutrition , IYCF-E and social behaviour change) who deploy within 72 hours to support humanitarian nutrition emergencies. Save the Children is a member of both Tech RRT and the IFE Core Group and contributed to the development of this SOP and different guidelines and tools related to IYCF-E.


This IYCF-E SOP was developed due to the identified need for an internal operational guidance document that can illustrate what steps to take and when to take them during the first year of an IYCF-E response. This IYCF-E SOP is intended to implement actions and recommendations stated in the Operational Guidance on Infant Feeding in Emergencies (OG-IFE).8 The purpose of this IYCF-E SOP is to provide recommendations on actions that need to be taken during each of the 6 steps in an emergency response to ensure timely, suitable and effective protection, promotion and support for safe and appropriate feeding for infants and young children. This is a first version (1.0), we will be monitoring and getting feedback from users and in the next 6 to 12 months will be revisiting and improving the SOP based on the inputs and emerging needs of the target users.



6 Black, Robert E et al. (2008). Maternal and child undernutrition: global and regional exposures and health consequences. The Lancet, Volume 371, Issue 9608, 243 – 260




IYCF_E-SOP-for-emergency-teams_Oct20.pdf (PDF, 2.0mb)

IYCF_E-SOP-for-emergency-teams_Arabic.pdf (PDF, 2.9mb)

IYCF_E-SOP-for-emergency-teams_French.pdf (PDF, 1.6mb)

IYCF_E-SOP-for-emergency-teams_Spanish.pdf (PDF, 1.7mb)


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Save the Children and the Nutrition Technical Rapid Response Team (Tech RRT) with the support of the members of the IFE Core Group (2020). IYCF-E Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) For Emergency Response Teams.



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