I am glad to be here with you and share an interesting experience that shows how participatory approaches like FAO Dimitra Clubs can highly contribute to improve food nutrition and promote dietary habits.
The Dimitra Clubs are a gender-sensitive participatory approach implemented by FAO that is recognized by development as a good practice. They are groups of women, men and young - mixed or not, who decide to organize themselves so as to work together to bring about changes in their community. They meet regularly to discuss their problems and take action to solve them. These communication spaces for discussion and action have been set up in isolated and remote rural communities of Sub-Saharan Africa (DR Congo, Senegal, Niger, Burundi, and Ghana).
The Dimitra Clubs have had a great success wherever they have been created. The process they stimulate has impact in various fields: improved agricultural practices, food security and nutrition, social mobilization, community governance, transformation of gender relations, behavior changes, and women’s leadership. As a result, the clubs facilitate a more gender-equitable access to productive resources, information, services, markets and agricultural innovations.
With regards to nutrition and agriculture issues, the Dimitra Clubs of FAO have been crucial in changing behaviors and improving food security in the communities. For example, in the village of Banizoumbou (Niger), a group of women’s members of the Dimitra Clubs obtained a 99-year land lease contract of almost 3 ha of arable land. This was possible thanks to the social dynamics triggered by the FAO-Dimitra Clubs. Today, these women grow nutritious crops and vegetables to feed their families and sell on the market.
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In Oriental Province (DR Congo), 80 Dimitra Clubs were created to tackle poverty, gender and food security issues. One of the results is the new energy and enthusiasm in the villages that are reflected in concrete achievements that improve people’s livelihoods. The issue of nutrition has been selected by most clubs and action has been taken. In collaboration with the community radio programme «Mamans et papas réunis» and the implication of traditional chiefs, the clubs have discussed the importance of diet diversity and food taboos. The results have been remarkable, with changes in the food habits. In Botike village, a member of the «Litomba ya Mosala Club» enthusiastically said: «Before we had food taboos: tortoise and today thanks to the club everyone eats it».
One of the main lessons learned with FAO-Dimitra Clubs is that people need to be considered as actors of their own development and not simply as “beneficiaries”. Local ‘ownership’ is essential to sustain capacity but depends on wide-spread and gender-sensitive participation. If both men and women are equally involved at all stages, then programmes have a far greater chance of success.
For further information about this approach please go to the following links:
Other examples of impact can be found in the Dimitra Newsletter: