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The sustainability of a nutrition-sensitive agriculture intervention: a case study from urban Senegal

Nordhagen, Stella, Thiam, Khadidjatou, Sow, Souleymane
Food security 2019 v.11 no.5 pp. 1121-1134
behavior change, case studies, chickens, children, hygiene, income, interviews, nutrition education, nutrition knowledge, parents, poultry production, sales, surveys, urban areas, vegetables, Senegal
The sustainability of nutrition-sensitive agriculture projects has been identified as a research gap, and there is limited research available examining such initiatives in an urban context. We examine the sustainability of a nutrition-sensitive agriculture project implemented in Dakar, Senegal. It included provision of two “microgarden” tables, a henhouse, chickens, inputs, training, and education on nutrition and hygiene. This study was conducted 18 months after the project's end and sought to assess the intervention’s sustainability via a survey and in-depth interviews with former project participants. The microgarden tables had poor sustainability: only 5% of respondents continued to use them to grow vegetables. Most of those who continued saw it as a hobby, not a main productive activity. In contrast, 75% continued poultry-rearing activities, and 20% had more chickens than provided by the project. Some former participants had switched to more lucrative models of chicken production, with sales being more common than during the project and considerable revenues earned. This ability to earn income from chicken sales was the dominant motivator of continued production. Nutrition knowledge and practices remained at or near project levels. We discuss lessons for the sustainability of nutrition-sensitive agriculture more generally. These include that in the absence of project-provided incentives, some dis-adoption should be expected; in an urban area, improving incomes may be more relevant than improving production; and behavior change communication likely needs to be re-enforced over time to ensure sustainable changes in nutrition knowledge among parents of young children.