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Improving child development, mother’s health and nutrition through animal source food consumption

Updated: Nov 13, 2018


As part of USAID Livestock Systems Innovation Lab’s “Enhancing milk quality and consumption for improved income and nutrition in Rwanda” study, Three Stones is designing and implementing a Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) intervention to increase the consumption of milk and animal source foods (ASFs). The intervention aims to reach pregnant and lactating women and children from 1 - 3.5 years, drawing participants from the Government of Rwanda’s One Cow per Family (Girinka) Program*. The research activity is designed to learn if a nutrition education intervention delivered through Community Health Workers (CHWs) and provided to households that have received a cow through the Girinka program is effective in increasing ASF consumption among women and young children. This intervention is building off qualitative findings that showed gaps in nutrition practices in households.

Evidence from a qualitative study undertaken by RTI international showed lack of knowledge on when to introduce cow’s milk to young children and the quantity children should consume daily; that lactating women don’t eat a special diet during pregnancy or lactation (the basic food is roots and tubers); and that men have low knowledge on maternal and child nutrition as a result of their limited participation.

Building an SBCC intervention takes patience, resources, capacity and passion. Below are some of Three Stones' Steps for Success:

Leveraging global expertise and bringing together a team with relevant local knowledge was a necessary first step. Three Stones drew from our internal expertise in the nutrition and communication fields and met with stakeholders and the local authorities to gain approvals and support. An environmental scan to gather background into current programming on ASF promotion, finding available resources being utilized and connecting with other development partners working in the sector, were important to shape the implementation strategy. Local buy-in was gained through meetings with key stakeholders including members of the Food and Nutrition Technical Working Group, the National Early Childhood Development Programme (NECDP), other national coordination agencies and local government authorities at district level. Along with these important partnerships, the qualitative findings on current knowledge, attitudes and practices helped inform the design of the intervention and identify an appropriate approach for implementation.

Getting creative! With the foundation laid and right people in the room, Three Stones designed and created SBCC messages and a CHW training curriculum adapting tested and approved resources from GoR, USAID, UNICEF and SPRING on infant and young child feeding.

Advocacy and coordination are essential ingredients; we will continue to connect with district and community leadership, development partners and governing agencies throughout the process.

*The goal of the Girinka program is to increase household income and reduce child malnutrition among poor households through livestock asset transfer.

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