This project aims to reduce childhood undernutrition by helping women to improve poultry and crop integration and efficiency.
Agricultural production has increased over the past two decades, but malnutrition rates in children have not diminished significantly in many developing countries. Nutritional insecurity can result in chronic undernutrition, which affects health, physical and cognitive development capacity in children, and productivity in adulthood.
Food security is crucial in Tanzania and Zambia where 42% and 45% of children under five years of age are undernourished. Sustainably addressing the nutrition component of food security in Tanzania and Zambia is critical.
Agricultural research has not reduced childhood nutrition, partly because of poor project design. Projects did not address whole value chains and policy issues.
Resources that women control are more likely to be used to educate and feed children. Improving women’s production of family poultry and crops should improve children’s overall nutritional status and health.
Food security is a global priority requiring a multidisciplinary approach. In 2014 in Tanzania and Zambia, the prevalence of stunting in children under five, a major determinant of individual development, was reported to be 42% and 45% respectively, despite years of agricultural research and development. Both countries are seeking sustainable solutions to the food security challenge that will improve human nutrition through improved household income and dietary diversification. Despite increases in agricultural production during the past two decades, malnutrition rates in children have not diminished significantly in many developing countries.
Local initiatives, such as enhancing traditional livestock-crop systems, can provide a sustainable solution to the ongoing demographic challenges in Africa that are driving the need for more food, improved livelihood opportunities, and reduced migration to urban centres. The aim of this project is to reduce childhood undernutrition by analysing and testing opportunities to enhance the key role that women play in improving poultry and crop integration and efficiency to strengthen household nutrition in an ecologically sustainable manner. A ‘one health’ approach is being employed by the project in support of increased poultry and crop value chain efficiency and household food and nutrition security by bringing together animal, crop and human health specialists, economists, ecologists and social scientists to work with participating communities.
Project activities commenced in Tanzania on 1 February 2014 and in Zambia on 1 July 2014. The first Annual Report covered the period February 2014 to April 2015. Following on from this, key achievements between May 2015 and June 2016 include:
Holding of Project Coordination Committee (PCC) meetings on 28-29 September 2015 in Lusaka, and 14-15 April 2016 in Dar es Salaam. These meetings were attended by representatives from Tanzania, Zambia, University of Sydney (USyd) and ACIAR. Reports on each meeting have been submitted to ACIAR.
Commencement of project activities in the final two of five project sites (Iwondo Ward in Tanzania and Rufunsa Ward in Zambia):
(i) Baseline anthropometry and application of the Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN) questionnaire in both sites.
(ii) Baseline and follow-up application of the Annual Household (AHH) questionnaire in Iwondo Ward in Tanzania.
Ongoing application of MCHN and AHH questionnaires in Sanza and Majiri Wards in Tanzania.
Ongoing community liaison and data collection has been facilitated through eight ‘community assistants’ (four male, four female) in each project community. This includes two-weekly contact with all project participants, gathering basic information on chicken numbers, child health and nutritional status. These data have been useful in identifying initial trends in poultry flock size and current child health and breastfeeding patterns.
Training and support for community-led Newcastle disease (ND) vaccination campaigns in Sanza, Majiri and Iwondo Wards in Tanzania, and Bundabunda Ward in Zambia.
Implementation of the Farming Systems Analysis (FSA) in Bundabunda Ward, Zambia in April 2016.
Introduction of a suite of new and improved varieties of crops and vegetables to Chicheho and Ikasi in Sanza Ward in the 2015-16 growing season. New varieties of green gram, orange sweet potato, sesame and sorghum proved well-adapted with 3-4 times better yields than the controls. New vegetable varieties mostly failed due to intensive rainfall and flooding.
Publications and presentations. During this reporting period, project members have published one ACIAR manual (No. 165a), two journal papers, one dissertation, and 11 conference abstracts, and delivered three invited presentations.
Implementation of one complementary small research activity (SRA). This SRA was designed in response to gaps identified through FSC/2012/023 where standard tools that were used for assessing dietary diversity were found to be too coarse to provide valid information about the range of foods (both cultivated/domesticated and non-cultivated/domesticated) contributing to human diets in specific locations. The research was carried out in Bundabunda Ward, in Rufunsa District in Zambia.
Higher degree research students. Currently, the project is collaborating with four ongoing Tanzanian research students, one ongoing Zambian research student, two Australian research students and one UK postdoctoral fellow. Eight Australian and two UK research students have successfully completed their projects in association with the project.