Assessing the Food and Nutrition Status of Machavika Village Through Participatory Approaches
One of the most important tasks in project management is measuring project progress; in doing so, different tools are used to assess projects. The community mapping is one of the tools that CTDT employs to assess its projects.
CTDT has in the past four years been conducting the community mapping in Machavika village of Chirundu District. The mapping aims to assess the community’s adoption rates for traditional seed, agroecological practices and measures dietary diversity to measure the progress of food and nutrition security within the community. The mapping creates a platform for reflection on food and nutrition security of the community and hopes to transform mindsets and practices that would lead to food and nutrition security.
The approach is participatory with the community taking the leading role in probing conversations for reflection from amongst themselves on food and nutrition related issues considering other processes and agreements made. The process usually takes four days, on the first day, a smaller group consisting mainly of 30 community members that review the community map, dietary diversity and the crop diversity which was then is presented to the whole community the following day.
The second day of the meeting is attended by the whole village to validate the findings of the small groups which had gathered the previous day. During the process, the community develops an action plan for the following year to improve on the areas they have found to be lagging behind.
In a review process of 2022, Machavika village results showed improvements in its’ food and nutrition security. The community now appreciates agroecological practices because of the evidence seen from those practicing it as compared to the previous years. Cases of malnutrition have steadily reduced which is mainly attributed to having a wide variety of foods from all the seven food groups. The number of households consuming food from all the seven food groups was shown to have improved from the 24-hour assessment that was conducted during the process. The number of households having enough to eat throughout the year increased from 15 out of 164 to 60 out of 176 of households accessed in 2021 and 2022 respectively. The lean period of the community was reduced from five months to four months. The uptake of agroecological practices such as intercropping with legumes in the community still has challenges as there are still issues in accessing legume seed.
One woman shared that ever since she joined the programme , participating in different activities especially cooking demonstrations has helped her household’s nutrition status to improve. “ There are crops like cowpea that never used to enjoy eating untill after I visited my relative from another village and saw how well she had prepared it. When I came back, I learnt the same thing from the cooking demontrations that were conducted here. I never knew I would enjoy cowpea untill I learnt other cooking methods that improve the taste of foods that we didn’t like consuming,” Selina Mbofana