On February 18th, 2015, Africare/Tanzania and BBC Media Action hosted a reception to present results from an independent assessment of the Social Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Kits utilized under Africare’s Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Program (MBNP). In the presence of development partners, consortium members and fellow non-governmental organizations, MBNP Chief of Party Brian Grant presented the concept and planning processes that created the kits, and BBC Media Action Country Director Colin Spurway shared how the kits have positively influenced behavioral changes in MBNP’s target communities.
MBNP is Africare’s flagship nutrition project, supported by USAID with funding through Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative. The program supports the Government of Tanzania by generating measurable improvements in the nutritional status of Tanzanians through the National Nutrition Strategy, the Tanzania Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan, and other relevant policies. MBNP strengthens institutional capacity among local Civil-Society Organizations to develop and manage a multi-year nutrition-based SBCC plan while also improving nutrition-related behavior through evidence-based interventions at the district and community levels.
One way MBNP implements its SBCC strategy is Parent Multimedia Kits, vibrantly colored knapsacks containing a range of educational activities and audio-visual learning materials to introduce parents to essential nutrition and social actions during the first 1,000 days of their child’s life. The kits contain books, a game about complementary feeding, leaflets, a radio for playing educational songs and dialogues, posters, door stickers, a calendar and testimonial cards. The materials and kits were jointly developed by MBNP and the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center along with creative direction from DJPA and Reel2Reel. MBNP’s consoritum partners – COUNSENUTH, the Manoff Group and Deloitte – also played critical roles in the development and production of the SBCC kits. As of December 2014, MBNP procured and distributed 2,382 SBCC kits.
BBC Media Action, the international development charity arm of the larger BBC media conglomerate, assessed the SBCC kits using a qualitative research approach to understand participants’ perceptions of the kit, its contents, and how the kit contributes to changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviors about child health and nutrition. Through numerous focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with Community Health Workers, District Nutrition Officers, village leaders and District Nutrition Steering Committee members, the team from BBC Media Action drew out a number of positive insights regarding the kits’ effectiveness.
Both men and women have positive views of the kit and enjoy participating in the Peer Support Groups (PSGs) where the kits are primarily used. The kits help parents consistently identify the stage of their child’s development through symbolic identifiers (Seed – Conception to Birth; Sprout – 0 to 6 months; Bud – 6 to 12 months; Flower – 12 to 24 months) and maintain knowledge of what nutritional actions must take place during these periods. BBC Media Action’s research found that knowledge of key behaviors during pregnancy are very high among those interviewed and that the kit, especially when used in concert with PSGs, is helping parents feel comfortable asking questions about nutrition lessons they do not fully understand.
Through interviews with members of male peer groups, BBC Media Action demonstrated that male project participants are internalizing the importance of shared responsibility during pregnancy. One participant said:
In the past we used to think that pregnancy is a woman’s concern, not ours. However we have learned that we are supposed to go the clinic to check our health…, attend counseling sessions and even learn about the necessary medication.
Another beneficiary added:
I didn’t know that a child needs to have five meals a day. I was just giving my child meals like a grown up person – three times a day. But since I learned from the group that a child is supposed to have extra meals, I decided to give my child five meals a day, and he now looks healthier.
Mr. Spurway showed that beneficiaries most easily recalled knowledge shared through audio-visual means, such as information from audio lessons or leaflets. Dense written materials were not as easily understood or recalled, leading BBC Media Action to suggest revisions to some of the MBNP kits’ materials.
Some barriers to the kits’ success that will continue to be addressed by the MBNP team include mothers’ lack of time to breastfeed due to farming responsibilities, incorrect nutrition information recommended by family or community members, and fear of questioning local health care providers.
The event concluded with a question and answer period where attendees shared their feedback on the kits’ contents and MBNP’s current SBCC strategy. Several participants shared ideas on how MBNP could improve the content of the kits, including making the materials more sustainable and cost-effective. Notable suggestions included a long-term research project to closely track how the knowledge imparted by the kits translates into widespread behavior change and engaging the private sector in manufacturing the kits.
by Araba Sapara-Grant
Programs and Administration Intern