To assess impact of nutrition-sensitive agricultural project on intake of beans and improved quality protein of indigenous women and their families in the Guatemalan highlands.
Use of Theory
Nutrition lessons were designed based on the Social Ecological Model taking into account the indigenous highland cultures and local foods grown. They were delivered across geographically dispersed communities in households using wood-burning stoves and no refrigeration.
Indigenous women and their families living in remote rural highland communities.
Five-pound bags of improved bean seed varieties were provided to rural families coupled with training to grow them. Five group lessons with videos and activities were developed to address nutrition topics taught by cross-trained nutrition, health and agricultural extension educators: preventing chronic malnutrition; enhancing protein quality; nutrient needs in pregnancy and lactation; feeding the child 6-11 months; and feeding the child 1-3 years. Because these rural families rarely eat animal protein and had reduced bean consumption, protein complementarity was stressed. Previous assessments demonstrated that their diets were composed primarily of corn and other carbohydrates.
This was addressed two ways: by comparing the household intake of beans both before and after receiving the lessons; and using the Most Significant Change technique for qualitative assessment.
The timeframe for the intervention was six months. Five hundred and seventy one households from 93 communities reported eating beans 1.5 x/week before receiving the bean seed and training and 2.8 x/week afterwards. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) for HH intakes showed statistically significant increases. Qualitative measurements 12 months after the intervention confirmed increased bean consumption across the study area.
This nutrition-sensitive food-based approach when coupled with seed distribution, agricultural and nutrition education resulted in an increased consumption of beans, which when combined with corn and other cereals, improved protein quality intake of women and their families in rural indigenous households.