Community and Public Health Nutrition
Objectives : Nutrition-sensitive interventions often fail because they lack contextual awareness. Participatory dissemination (PD), the formal sharing of research data with participants, can improve impact by fostering coproduction of knowledge and increasing participant involvement in the project. Here, we demonstrate how PD revealed previously unidentified challenges and solutions to dietary diversity, and strengthened a nutrition-sensitive project in Tanzania.
Methods : Singida Nutrition and Agroecology Project (SNAP-Tz) is a participatory intervention in sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and gender equity. Study staff shared simple graphs of village-level findings, including those about children’s diet and nutrition status in May-Jun 2017. Farmers (n=~175) from the 10 intervention villages reflected on and interpreted the data in groups of 2-12 (n=26 groups). Discussions were recorded, transcribed in Swahili, and then translated to English. Thematic analyses and deductive coding were performed using Dedoose.
Three main barriers to dietary diversity surfaced: 1. resource limitation was the main barrier identified (n=42 mentions; 16 groups). Female-only groups disclosed that 2. gender inequity limits women’s control of household resources and priority to food (n=22; 13). This exacerbates resource limitation, especially when coupled with some men’s alcohol consumption. 3. Cultural beliefs discourage the consumption of eggs (n=7; 6).
Two solutions were to: 1. encourage gender equity by including women in financial decisions and involving men in childcare (n=6, 5 by males; 4), and 2. invest in livestock to become self-reliant for eggs, milk, and meat. Those with livestock noted the desire to use their production more for their families and not only for sale (n= 7; 5).
Conclusions : PD opened up a space for peer-mentorship as participants shared previously unconsidered solutions. Mentor farmers amplified efforts for gender equity and began addressing cultural beliefs with these interpretations. Further, findings suggested avenues for quantitative exploration with survey data. This exercise strengthened the contextual understanding and participant involvement in the project, ensuring the intervention's success.
Funding Sources : McKnight Foundation and Atkinson Center for Sustainable Futures of Cornell University funded this study.