The changing face of gender roles in Uganda as men embrace nutrition planning at household level.
Wilson Kyomuhendo is a farmer in Katebe village, Nyabuharwa Sub County in Kyenjojo district. Like many men in his community, he left the planning of meals for his household to his wife with no involvement from him whatsoever. In 2016, SNV launched the Sustainable Nutrition for All (SN4A) project in Kyenjojo and Kasese. Community members were asked to volunteer to join the Nutrition Action Groups (NAGs) as champions for the project. Wilson joined and was soon made one of the (NAG) team leaders in Nyabuharwa Sub-Country. The NAGS were trained on the importance of agro biodiversity, dietary diversity and hygiene. One of the key learning tools was the 5 finger poster that was used to train the NAGs about the different food groups that families should eat.
“When we started hearing about the different food groups that our families are supposed to eat to stay healthy, it felt really strange. I was not very familiar with all these food groups but what they were teaching us made a lot of sense and was very touching because it was something that affected our children. I resolved to learn all that I could and implement it in my home. Being the group team leader I also realised that I had to lead by example and motivate my team to change as well. I established vegetable gardens at home. My wife and I planted orange fleshed potatoes and dodo (amaranth). Today we have enough of each of the five finger foods at home. For carbohydrates we have, the orange fleshed sweet potatoes, banana and cassava which are well maintained; plant protein from beans and groundnuts; vegetables from the Egg plants, Nakati (bitter tomato) and Dodo) and Jack fruits and avocados for fruits.”
Five fingers poster being used to promote dietary diversity
Wilson is not only able to feed his household, he is earning extra income from selling his surplus orange fleshed sweet potatoes and vegetables. From the income he earns, Wilson is able to buy meat for his children as well as meet other basic requirements in his household. He now intends buy and rear rabbits and chicken so that his children can have an assured supply of animal protein and sell the rest for additional income. “I am very proud of myself and grateful to SNV for teaching us about nutrition and how we can feed our families diverse foods and earn income from our gardens at the same time.”
Wilson in his garden of orange fleshed sweet potatoes
Since the project’s launch in 2016, 80% (10,560 households) of the targeted households have established vegetable gardens and are eating diversified foods in their homes. By the end of Phase I of the SN4A project in 2017, the number of women of reproductive age consuming an inadequate diet (food from less than 5 food groups) had dropped from 79% to 15% in Kasese and Kyenjojo. The project was also successful in increasing minimum dietary diversity for children 6-23 months, showing an increase from an overall mean of 3.3 at baseline to 4.7 at end line. The number of children consuming an inadequate diet dropped from 46% to 7% in Kasese and 63% to only 3% in Kyenjojo. SNV is now implementing phase II of the SN4A project to strengthen the gains from Phase I.
By Jackline Biira, Junior Agriculture Advisor SN4A project
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