In the MEAL project we are collaborating with the Public Health Institute (PHI) to provide training to the project’s staff and project’s participating households (HH). Agriculturists are usually trained to promote the production of food and cash crops but are rarely given the training required to promote better diets and nutritional practices. By virtue of their direct access to farming families, the agricultural staff is well placed to promote improved household food supplies and nutritious diets through the development of home gardening. Initially, training had been conducted for MEAL staff between January and March in 2012 (Year 1). Community Health and Social Workers as well as the kheseg volunteers were also invited to this training. They have been trained in the following nutrition-related practices: healthy eating including pregnant/lactating women and children, food safety, food preparation and processing, clean water and hygiene. Cooking demonstrations were also a part of the training. This was followed by training in September. Following the first year of trainings, the MEAL project nutritionists were responsible for further nutrition-related trainings and events within the targeted communities. The project nutritionists have been updating their knowledge and trainings every year through meetings and updates from the PHI, also by conducting in-house trainings approved by other staff members.
The initial nutrition training for project participating HH was conducted at the end of the harvest period in Year 1 as the participants had been very busy during their first year learning and experiencing new agricultural practices. All subsequent trainings and cooking demonstrations were conducted twice annually by the project nutritionist, during cropping season and at completion. The nutrition training primarily targeted the women as it had been identified that they are primarily responsible for sourcing and preparing meals for the family. However fathers and children were invited to participatory activities as well. Each nutrition session was followed by a cooking demonstration in which the use of locally grown food was encouraged so the HH developed a taste for their produce. All necessary cooking equipment and ingredients were provided by the HH.
The training was provided by the Public Health Institute (PHI) and topics focused on healthy diet, food security, food processing, hygiene and clean water.