Capacity building for nutrition education

Luapula Food Security, Nutrition Action and Communication Project (LFSNAC), Zambia

The project is a follow-up to "Improving Household Food Security and Nutrition in the Luapula Valley, Zambia (IHFSAN)" (1997 - 2001). The aim was to consolidate the results of the IHFSAN with regard to improving nutrition and household food security in four districts in Luapula Province, Mwense, Kawambwa, Nchelenge and Chienge districts with a combined population of approximately 450,000.


Country: Zambia
Duration: 2003 - 2007


Responsible Ministries/institutions/partnerships, including UN:

Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MACO)
Curriculum Development Centre, Ministry of Education (MOE)
Ministry of Health (MOH)
National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC)
The Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM)
Non-governmental organizations and (NGOs) and Community-based Organizations (CBOs)


Project Summary:

The project's overall goal was to improve food and nutrition security of vulnerable households and communities, by introducing methods, knowledge and outputs into the work of public institutions to allow these institutions to better respond to the needs of food insecure and nutritionally vulnerable population groups in four districts of Luapula Province.


Immediate Objectives:

  • To strengthen the capacity of district and sub-district institutions so that they will adopt a participatory and integrated programme approach towards the improvement of the nutrition and household food security situation in the district. 
  • To increase access to a variety of nutritious foods and generate income among poor and vulnerable groups, including those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, through improved production, agro-processing, small enterprise and product development and marketing. 
  • To enhance communities', households', and school children's knowledge of important food, nutrition and health issues and to promote positive attitudes and behavioural changes that result in improved diet quality, adequate nutritional intakes and better dietary utilisation.

Until July 2006, the LFSNAC project was comprised of three main components: Institutions, Food Security, Health and Nutrition Education and Communication. The first two project components were phased out in July 2006; the Health and Nutrition Education and Communication component continued through August 2007, the official end date of the project. This project brief focuses on key activities and achievements of the Health and Nutrition Education and Communication component.

Critical problem identified and addressed by the project:

  • High levels of malnutrition among children under five years of age
  • Chronic household food insecurity
  • Poor access to adequate health, water and sanitation facilities
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Inadequate knowledge and delivery of nutrition services
  • Lack of public nutrition education
  • Lack of nutrition taught in schools

Main beneficiaries:

  • Communities and households most vulnerable to chronic household food insecurity and malnutrition. 
  • Government extension staff from agriculture, health and education, community nutrition promoters and community-based organizations (CBOs).

Main activities completed:

The Nutrition Education and Communication Strategy developed under the IHFSAN project, served as a road map for all activities under Objective 3 of LFSNAC and provided a solid basis for the implementation of a comprehensive food, nutrition and health education programme aimed at promoting healthful behaviours, improved feeding practices, hygiene, sanitation and nutritional care for vulnerable households and individuals.

  • Community Nutrition Education/Young Child Feeding
    • The Community Nutrition Education component focused on promoting appropriate complementary feeding of children aged 6 to 24 months by building the capacities of families and mothers to select and prepare locally available, affordable, nutritious and safe complementary foods. 
    • The project trained 46 Community Nutrition Promoters through collaboration with the MOH in: (a) nutritional assessment and identification of malnourished children under 2 years of age; (b) promotion of locally available complementary foods; (c) counselling mothers and families on complementary feeding using improved complementary food recipes developed. 
    • Community Nutrition Promoters carried out nutrition counselling through home visits, group meetings and cooking demonstrations using feeding recommendations developed through the Trials for Improved Feeding Practices (TIPS) methodology.
  • Nutrition Education in Basic Schools 
    • The school nutrition education component is led by the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) of Ministry of Education and aimed at integrating food and nutrition topics into the basic school curriculum, supporting teaching and learning through the preparation of class materials for children in Grades 2, 4 and 6 (pupil's book and teacher's book) and training for teachers on how to use the materials.
    • Grade 2 and 4 materials were completed and printed. The development of Grade 6 materials is currently underway under an FAO-funded Technical Cooperation project (TCP). 
    • An impact evaluation of Grade 2 materials is planned towards the end of 2008, with support from NFNC.
  • Community Outreach through Radio Communication
    • Expanding access by households in Luapula to food and nutrition information through radio broadcasting was a central activity in the Nutrition Education and Communication Strategy developed by IHFSAN. Radio Yangeni, operated by the Catholic Diocese of Mansa, was to expand broadcasting to the project districts, through upgrading its technical equipment and the establishment of a repeater station to be established in Kawambwa. 
    • At District level, the Education/Communication Task Force teams from the four line ministries (Health, Agriculture, Education and Community Development) were sensitised and trained to integrate nutrition education/communication activities in their work-plan and budgets.
    • Radio Yangeni was significantly upgraded to help improve broadcast quality. At the community level, 40 radio listening groups were established and provided with 40 wind-up radios.
    • A community radio repeater station was established in Kawambwa, complementing to extend radio broadcast coverage to the four districts. 
    • Radio programmes and leaflets were prepared to promote good dietary practices, health and sanitation at household and community level and schools.

Main outputs:

  • Booklet "Improved Complementary Foods for Infants and Young Children in Zambia", approved by the National Committee on Infant and Young Child Feeding and co-published by National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC) and FAO. The booklet will be published in 2008 for dissemination and use at national level.
  • A cadre of 46 community nutrition promoters and more than 200 peer educators were trained in improved complementary feeding and growth monitoring and promotion.
  • Grade 2 materials were produced in English in 2005 and subsequently translated into the local language, Bemba. 28,500 pupil's books in Bemba and 2,500 teacher's books were released for use in Luapula basic schools in May 2006. 
  • Grade 4 materials were printed in 2007 (2 000 teacher's book; 7,500 pupil's book).
  • Approximately 550 Grade 2 and 4 trainers and teachers have been trained in the use of the books. 
  • A baseline survey on Grade 2 children's, teachers' and parents' food, nutrition and health knowledge was conducted through in August 2006 to provide baseline data against which to measure future outcomes and impact.
  • About 8,000 children in 190 basic schools in Mwense, Kawambwa, Nchelenge and Chienge are receiving food, health and nutrition education lessons. 
  • A radio repeater station was fully functional by August 2007. To date the repeater station has not been put into operation owing to constraints relating to government regulations. 
  • From Radio Yangeni, a weekly Saturday morning "Children's Nutrition Corner", initiated in February 2006, was developed and broadcast based on the Grade 2 school materials and approach, involving local schools and teachers and encouraging listener feedback. 
  • A weekly family programme "Eating well for a healthy life" was launched on World Food Day 2006 (16 October), using scripts developed for broadcast.

Main results:

  • At the institutional level, awareness about the importance of nutrition within the food security and development discourse was raised, and line ministries concerned have mainstreamed nutrition within their planning. 
  • Trained peer educators proved very effective in teaching fellow mothers and other care providers in the villages. 
  • The establishment of Community-based growth monitoring and promoting posts contributed to lessening the congestion at rural health posts. 
  • At community level, notable changes in dietary diversification, especially the inclusion of green leafy vegetables and palm oil in children's foods, and the use of chisense (small fish) in children's porridge were observed. Recipes which have been developed are also well accepted by sick adults as observed during cooking demonstrations and district reports provided by the Ministry of Health. 
  • The innovative approach adopted in the preparation of the nutrition education material for Grade 2 and 4 in Primary Schools has proved to be an excellent means to reach out to children, parents and teachers on a wide range of issues. 
  • The decision to invest important resources in the use of a local radio broadcasting station, to diffuse nutrition and food security related messages, as well as to provide a channel for agri-business and market information, is yet to show its full impact. Work is currently underway to explore the modalities for establishing a separate community radio station in Kawambwa, not linked to Radio Yangeni. 
  • Many of the good nutrition and health behaviours that are being promoted depend on the existence of a healthy school and home environment and access to sufficient nutritious food. We hope that improved awareness and knowledge on the importance of good nutrition among school children, parents and communities will not only foster better eating and health-promoting behaviours, but also create demand for and encourage investment in the provision of adequate health services, access to clean water and proper sanitation and improved food security for poor and disadvantaged households. 
  • The results and lessons learned from the Project's Nutrition Education in Basic Schools (NEBS) component have been disseminated widely: 
  • Can nutrition education make a difference
  • "From nutrition needs to classroom lessons: can we make a difference?
  • Several articles were published in international peer reviewed journals, including the December 2007 edition of Nutrition Education and Behaviour
  • FAO nutrition education materials, procedures and lessons learned are beginning to make their mark beyond Luapula Province and Zambia.

Catalytic effects/impact

Following project closure in August 2007, additional funds were obtained from FAO to support the further development and testing of Grade 6 materials. There are plans by the Ministry of Education to expand the programme to other provinces.

Project strengths/successes 

  • The Nutrition Education and Communication Strategy was well developed and succeeded in bringing all the project components to work together around a common goal of improved food and nutrition security at household level.
  • A good understanding was achieved by staff from the line ministries on the different causes of malnutrition and the need to tackle them through a multi-disciplinary approach. 
  • Training for Grade 2 nutrition education in basic school materials was a great success. It was set up in a very interactive way and parents play a role in the learning process. In schools where it was field tested, pupils, teachers and headmasters were equally enthusiastic.
  • There is some evidence that gains in awareness, knowledge and behaviour can be achieved among children and their families with an actively implemented classroom programme backed by teacher training and parent involvement. The role of good materials, backed by training is central.
  • The Trials of Improved Practices methodology continues to be widely used by Community Nutrition Promoters to promote better feeding of young children.

Project weaknesses/constraints (relating to the project in general)

  • The project objectives were ambitious relative to the weak institutional set up, weak technical capacities and the necessary technical and managerial competencies and resources, including finance required for implementing this project.
  • Erosion of government services, capacities and skills resulting from loss of trained staff due to AIDS, thus jeopardising sustainability of project results. 
  • Weak inter-sectoral collaboration and coordination.



última actualización:  viernes 8 de enero de 2016