Authors: Rachael Cox, Kirimi Sindi, Robert Ackatia-Armah, Valentine Uwase, Francine Uwera, Jean Claude Nshimiyimana, and Luka Wanjohi
The theory of change guiding the Feed the Future Rwanda Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato for Income and Nutrition Activity associates the increased consumption of OFSP and improvements in other nutrition indicators with various interventions including: (1) brief training at mass vine dissemination, (2) behavior change messaging for nutrition about OFSP, (3) trainings and counseling with community health workers, and (4) mass media and marketing campaigns (i.e. print, radio, and television). Despite a diversified methodology used in project design, the full interventions are not planned until year 2 of the project, so actions in year one only involved the brief training at mass vine dissemination and a brochure on OFSP nutrition and cooking in local Kinyarwanda language. Through data collection for monitoring and evaluation, we have an opportunity to explore the trends of knowledge, understanding, and behavior change between beneficiaries who received the two mentioned nutrition interventions and farmers who were not project beneficiaries. A household survey was completed in September of 2016 to understand OFSP related agriculture and nutrition knowledge and practices across 10 districts where the Feed the Future OFSP project is being implemented. Survey respondents were in two groups, (1) beneficiary recipients of OFSP vine delivery and communication materials by CIP in sectors where CIP implemented in 2015-2016 growing seasons and (2) similar profiled farmers in sectors that will (a) receive vine distribution in future seasons but have not received CIP interventions yet or (b) not receive vine distribution as a part of this CIP project. We used the data from these two survey respondent groups to analyze trends in how the behavior change interventions mentioned above relate to knowledge and understanding of OFSP-related nutrition topics and nutrition behaviors. Data was analyzed using linear models in R. First, we identified the trends between receiving a brochure on OFSP and understanding of OFSP nutritional benefits. In revision of the data we found that non-beneficiaries had received no brochures on OFSP and we found the of the 900 beneficiaries surveyed, 74% received a brochure. We saw a clear relationship of people who received brochures to be able to provide more information about the benefits of OFSP for nutrition (p<0.001), on average 1.4 benefits were provided by people without a brochure and 1.9 with those who received a brochure. Of beneficiaries we also saw a strong trend that those who received a message about OFSP nutrition at vine distribution were able to provide more benefits of OFSP when asked (p<0.001). Specifically, the group receiving the message could provide 2.3 benefits of OFSP for nutrition and the group who did not receive a message could provide less than 0.5 benefits on average. This information may help us to understand that the value of messaging and training at distribution could contribute to stronger understanding of nutritional benefits than a brochure alone. Further tree regression analyses will be prepared before the presentation of information to understand the influence of brochures, messages at distribution, and the combination of the two interventions. Less than 2% of non-beneficiaries have received any written materials or trainings on OFSP, and 5.8% had knowledge of OFSP prior to the start of the project, however we see that the only significant relationship when analyzing together the whole surveyed population of beneficiary and non-beneficiary understanding of nutritional benefits of OFSP is whether or not they received vines (p<0.001), an evident trend as there is relatively little exposure to OFSP outside of CIP projects in Rwanda. Further analysis investigating trends between interventions and OFSP consumption showed only a significant connection between receiving OFSP messaging at distribution to household OFSP consumption in a 7-day recall (p=0.03). There were no correlations with brochures or with reference child or reference woman OFSP consumption. This initial analysis will be critical in guiding further project implementation, especially to ensure higher success rates by CIP and partners to deliver brochures and training on nutritional benefits of OFSP at vine dissemination as this is confirmed to contribute to a better understanding of the importance of OFSP. We are tasked with collecting more robust OFSP consumption data in order to capture better the relationship between our interventions and the consumption of OFSP.