OL 303 Assignment Two Discussion
Vegetable Gardens & Community Gardens for Family Nutrition & Food Security

This is going to be a busy week because we have essentially three things to accomplish. We need to make sure that you can have enough information on nutrition to be able to lead an introductory workshop. We need to get a lesson plan and how to cards adapted to your region. And we need to prepare for conducting a baseline study.

Last week we learned about food security: people need access to the right quantity and quality of food at the right times so that they can lead healthy productive lives.

Part One: Learning About Nutrition
Nutrition re-examines the quantity and quality. Many poor people will fill themselves up on staple crops such as rice or maize. This will give them energy, but it won’t provide protein for growth nor give them the variety of vitamins and minerals that the body requires to be completely healthy.

These families might not be eating a diverse diet for one of several reasons. They might not have access to vitamin A rich fruits and vegetables. Or they might have access but might not be able to afford them. They might have a lack of knowledge that a home garden can help address these issues. On the other hand they might have a lack of knowledge about nutrition: they might not know that they should be eating a diverse diet. The surveys that you will be conducting before the workshop will help pin-point which of these underlying causes plays the biggest factor.

The important thing about nutrition and a development context is the need to eat a diversity of types of foods. So in the upcoming workshop we’re going to introduce the importance of eating a diversity of food, and the importance of proportions between the different types of food that they should eat: perhaps less cornmeal than they’re eating today and more beans, fruits, and vegetables

I have a lot of resources for you this week. I’m going to give you links to three books that you can download, a websites that has lots of interesting information, and a set of documents that will help you prepare for the workshop.

The documents are meant to be adapted to your region. This could include translating a poster into a local language, or exchanging foods listed on the poster for locally available foods.

Last week in the handout ”A Healthy Diet” you learned about the types of foods and what the body uses them for. My recommendation to you would be to
1. skim the rest of the FAO Fact Sheets
2. skim the book “Healthy Harvest” (it’s a beautiful book and packed with useful information)
3. look through “Useful Nutrition Charts for Workshops.doc”

These three resources will give you a good background on nutrition and provide the information that you need to adapt your lesson plan and how to card.

Part Two: Adapting a Lesson Plan
We’re going to create a lesson plan just like we did before. I’m going to provide you with a general nutrition lesson plan which you can then adapt to your region. I’m also giving you a set of charts that you can turn into how to cards or posters.

Part three: Conducting a Baseline Survey.
Conducting a baseline survey will let us gain a better understanding of community food security and family nutrition. I’ve also included a few questions about family gardening.

The development world uses different kinds of survey techniques. There are in-depth baseline studies that are conducted, and there are rapid appraisals. Rapid appraisals have become popular in development and today they’re well-designed. We will use rapid appraisals next week. Please read “Innovative Tools” for a quick overview.

I’m including a ‘FAO Dietary Diversity Questionnaire’ to assess nutrition levels, and a background document. I’m including a ‘Household Food Insecurity Access Scale Survey’ and a background document. And I’m including a home garden survey.

Next week, you can make the decision if you want to do all three surveys or just one or two. Each survey will take approximately 10 minutes, so that’s 30 minutes per person. I would be tempted to keep the workshop down to nine or 12 people, and to bring two or three colleagues along with me to do the surveys. That way you could get the surveys done in an hour and a half, take a break to have a healthy snack, and then start the nutrition workshop. The full time for the surveys in the workshop is eight hours in one day or you could do it as two half day workshops.

The survey will do four things for us:
1. It will help us determine if the community is suffering from food insecurity, and if so, what are the causes.
2. It will help us determine if families in the community are suffering from under nutrition, and if so, what are the causes.
3. It will help us understand people’s feelings and knowledge about family gardens, whether they have areas that they can plant gardens in, and whether they have the ability to purchase seed and maintain their gardens, and whether they have water available for watering their gardens.
4. And lastly, the baseline will give us something to compare to in six months or a year to see if our program is having a positive impact on the community.

To get started my recommendation would be to
1. read ”FAO Innovative Tools for Assessing Household Food Security and Dietary Diversity” (only three pages)
2. printout and read the three questionnaires — they’re only a page long each.

If you want further background detail skim the FAO guidelines paper and the USAID paper — but this is mandatory.

In the “Useful Nutrition Charts” document there are several problem trees which I placed there to give you ideas about what might the underlying causes for food insecurity and malnutrition be in your particular project. These aren’t necessarily to be used in the workshop there more for your thought processes. It’s interesting to note that these problem trees are organized in a very similar fashion to the project outlines that you did four months ago that detailed the problem, the underlying causes, and the negative impact.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but mostly it is a couple of hours of reading and then simply adapting a lesson plan and three questionnaires to your region. For many of the resources I’m giving you the links for future reference but they can also be downloaded from the class site.

Please move on to Assignment Two Homework.