Maternal Participation Level in a Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Intervention Matters for Child Diet and Growth Outcomes in Rural Ghana

Elsevier, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, 1 March 2022
Dallmann D., Marquis G.S., Colecraft E.K., Kanlisi R., Aidam B.A.
Background: Little is known about how the level of program participation affects child nutrition in rural interventions. Objectives: This study examined the association between participation level in a nutrition-sensitive agriculture intervention and children's diet and anthropometric outcomes in rural Ghana. Methods: Nutrition Links was a cluster randomized controlled trial ( NCT01985243), which enrolled caregivers with children (aged less than 2 mo in 2014-2015 and less than 18 mo in 2016-2017). Of the 287 caregivers in 19 intervention communities who enrolled, 233 adopted the intervention and received layer poultry, garden inputs, and weekly child feeding education. The egg production and repayment of poultry were monitored, and feed was sold at the weekly meetings. After endline, the nutrition educators rated each woman who adopted the intervention on a scale [very poor (1) to excellent (5)] for: 1) meeting attendance, 2) egg productivity, 3) feed and poultry loan payment, 4) contributions during meetings, and 5) attentiveness towards group members. Participation level was classified as high, medium, and low by dividing the sum of these 5 items into tertiles; 54 women who did not adopt the intervention were classified as "no participation."Generalized mixed linear models tested the difference in changes in children's diet and anthropometric indices between the participation levels and the control category - 213 caregiver-child dyads in 20 communities who received standard-of-care health and agricultural services. Results: Compared with the control category, only high participation was associated with egg consumption [adjusted OR (aOR) = 3.03; 95% CI: 1.15, 7.94]. Both medium and high participation levels were associated with length-for-age z-scores (LAZ)/height-for-age z-scores (HAZ) [adjusted β-coefficients (aβ) = 0.44; 95% CI: 0.16, 0.72 and 0.40; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.67, respectively]. Conclusion: These results highlight the importance of promoting and monitoring the level of beneficiary participation to estimate the full potential of nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions to improve nutritional outcomes.