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Planning, design and implementation of the enhancing child nutrition through animal source food management (ENAM) project

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Abstract:

The Global-Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program’s (GL-CRSP) Child Nutrition Project, a controlled feeding trial in rural Kenya, demonstrated the importance of Animal Source Foods (ASF) for children’s micronutrient status and cognitive development. These findings prompted research efforts to understand the constraints to ASF in children’s diets in Africa so as to design targeted interventions to improve the ASF quality of children’s diets. The Enhancing Child Nutrition through Animal Source Management (ENAM) project (2004-2009) emanated from participatory formative research that identified six principal constraints to the inclusion of Animal Source Foods (ASF) in children’s diets in Ghana, including low income of caregivers, poor producer-consumer linkages, inadequate nutrition knowledge and skills of extension staff and caregivers, cultural beliefs, and inequitable household food distribution. To address these constraints, the ENAM project undertook a multidisciplinary community development, research and capacity building initiative with the goal of augmenting caregivers’ access to and use of ASF in children’s diets. Participatory processes were used to implement an integrated microcredit, entrepreneurship and nutrition education intervention with 181 caregivers of children 2- to5-years old in six rural communities across three agro-ecological zones (Guinea Savannah, Forest-Savannah Transitional and Coastal Savannah) of Ghana. Six matched communities from the same ecological zones served as comparison sites. Quantitative methods that included surveys, child anthropometry, and dietary assessment as well as qualitative case studies were used to assess the effect of the intervention on household, caregiver and child outcomes of interest. This paper presents the key features of the planning, design and implementation of the community intervention and the research processes undertaken to assess the project’s impacts. The ENAM project model presents a unique approach for addressing caregivers’ income and knowledge barriers to improve child nutrition in rural Ghana and may be a promising intervention model for scale-up in Ghana and other African countries.

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