The Initiative

All parents want the best for their children.

Breastfeeding provides exceptional moments during which a mother develops a special bond with her child and so much more.

Breastfeeding is a vital part of giving every child the healthiest start to life. It’s the baby’s first vaccine; his/her best source of nutrition and it paves the way for healthy development of his/her brain.

The Stronger with Breastmilk Only initiative promotes giving babies breastmilk only, on demand, and stopping the practice of giving water (and other liquids and foods), from the moment of their birth through their first six months of life.

The initiative aims for West and Central Africa to achieve the global exclusive breastfeeding target of 50 per cent by 2025.

Stronger with Breastmilk Only initiative responds to the call to action of the Global Breastfeeding Collective, which gathers more than 20 international organizations that collectively advocate for increased investments and policy change to achieve the global breastfeeding goal.

Learn more by watching this short video


Listen to the Podcast

WHO and UNICEF recommend:

  • Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

  • Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

  • Introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at six months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond.

Key Facts

  • Only four out of every 10 newborns are breastfed one hour after birth in West and Central Africa.

  • Only three out of 10 babies under six months are exclusively breastfed in West and Central Africa. Most breastfed babies are given other liquids and foods, in most cases water is given.

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the cost of not breastfeeding is the highest in the world, with economic losses representing 2.57 per cent of GNI.

  • Breastfeeding is one of the best investments in global health: every $1 invested in breastfeeding generates $35 in economic returns.

  • Breastfeeding is an investment that not only improves children’s health and saves lives, but also develops human capital, which can benefit a country’s economy.

  • The scaling up of breastfeeding can prevent an estimated 823 000 child deaths and 20 000 breast cancer deaths every year.



Nigeria video
2021 Dec 10

In 2007, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria was just 13%; today, it has almost doubled, to 24%. This short (5 min) video provides an overview of how Alive & Thrive worked with the Government of Nigeria and its partners to address the gap between exclusive breastfeeding knowledge and behavior and adapt its proven social behavior change framework to urban and rural areas of Nigeria to increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding. Watch the video.

SWBO launch in Senegal
2021 Nov 24

Senegal has launched the Stronger With Breastmilk Only initiative, becoming the ninth country to do so in the West and Central Africa Region. The initiative is a collaboration supported by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Alive & Thrive, to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding and to strengthen breastfeeding programs and policies.

2021 Sep 22

A series of articles published in Le Monde Afrique highlights the importance of exclusive breastfeeding across West Africa and discusses the obstacles to achieving the target of 50% exclusive breastfeeding by 2025. Read more here.


Advocacy Guidances
Increase Funding for Breastfeeding
Fact Sheets
Breastmilk Expression, Storage and Feeding
Policy Maker
PowerPoint Presentation: Give Babies Breastmilk Only in the First Six Months of Life
Advocacy Guidances
Enforce Regulations to Protect Breastfeeding