For its final learning event with Tufts University, Growth through Nutrition recently invited partners to share key experiences and lessons learned throughout the duration of the first five years of the project. The event, organized by Tufts in collaboration with Save the Children, was held virtually over Zoom on the 15th and 16th of June 2021 and involved key partners, stakeholders and other development professionals working in multi-sectoral programs in Ethiopia and abroad.
Opening remarks were given by project leaders Daniel Abbott, Chief of Party from Save the Children, Jim Sitrick, Nutrition Coordinator at USAID, and Professor Eileen Kennedy, Principal Investigator from Tufts University. In his brief introduction, Dan highlighted the importance of the learning agenda within the framework of the Growth through Nutrition project.
In the first session of the event, Rahel Gizaw, Sr. Learning Advisor from Tufts University, led participants through the main lessons learned in each of the five Intermediate Results (IRs) areas, based on results from operational research studies conducted under Growth through Nutrition. Some of the key findings showed:
- Cash transfer was deemed better than in-kind provision mechanisms to support beneficiaries according to research done in the Amhara and Oromia regions.
- Institutions and family members (such as schools, places of worship and parents) should play a major role in SBCC activities targeting adolescent girls.
- Key mitigation strategies and recommendations to minimize the negative impact of COVID on health and agricultural services
The presentation was interspersed with success stories from the field and was followed by a look at the innovative approaches employed in the project, provided by Deputy Chief of Party from Save the Children, Lioul Berhanu. Among the innovative solutions highlighted were various post-harvest handling technologies, the mNutrition platform, greater engagement with the private sector to improve access to WASH products, and the Grant under Grant scheme.
In the second session, project partners shared reflections from their experiences during Growth through Nutrition, highlighting key learnings in terms of successes, challenges and recommendations, which include the use of masons to sell WASH products, strengthening of pre-service education, and capacity building of government institutions in order to build ownership.
Day one concluded with a presentation by Professor Kennedy on data analysis of women’s dietary diversity in Ethiopia. Results show that despite the prevalence of low dietary diversity among women, an increased production of food and cash crops (especially two or more) and ownership of livestock can improve diet diversity.
The second day of the workshop focused on key findings from project research, including the Growth through Nutrition small grant studies. Yoseph Kebede, WASH Education and Training Advisor for Jhpiego, presented results from the pre-post NSA and WASH assessment of agriculture students. He discussed how the integration of skill competencies into the revised curriculum and establishment of a functional skills lab may have resulted in a 31.7% improvement in students who passed the assessment, with gender responsive interventions also potentially causing a 26.7% improvement in female student pass rates.
Dr. Abdulhalik Workicho, Research Manager for Tufts University, followed by sharing findings on the role Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) plays in infant and young child feeding practices. He explained that SBCC contributes to improved nutrition behaviors and further expanded on how an added Virtual Facilitator (VF) tool improves the overall effectiveness of SBCC. The remainder of the workshop was dedicated to brief overviews of the findings from research conducted by Small Grant program participants, followed by an interactive discussion session and closing remarks by project leaders commending the open and productive collaboration among partners, which was key to the project’s overall success.
A full report on the event can be found here.