After three months of community assessment, we have decided upon “lishe ya watoto”or childhood nutrition to be the focus of The Tabora Project. We hope these guiding principles will not only resonate with the community, but also direct the future projects in Tabora for many years to come.
This project idea came to fruition in part because food and nutrition have both been recurring conversation topics amongst ourselves and community members. Especially in the beginning, when we were acquiring our Swahili vocabulary, conversations regarding food and cooking were the “go-to’s” when conversation was lagging. But as our time here (and our vocabulary) progressed, culinary conversations endured. In fact, the past couple of months have resulted in the investigation of the cultural, social and educational linkages between nutrition, agriculture, and food security, and how these topics could effectively align our efforts with the greater purpose of 2Seeds.
Briefly, a Taboran child’s diet, as with many rural Tanzanians, is based on staples including cereals (maize), starches (cassava), and to a lesser extent pulses (beans). Animal products such as meat, eggs, and milk are consumed very sparingly and only about five percent of energy comes from fruits and vegetables. This often results in nutrient deficiencies that manifest themselves in a variety of ways in children, including poor growth, low energy, inability to learn, and susceptibility to illness.
We explored many ways to address nutrition, but ultimately decided on a two prong approach based on agricultural and nutritional trainings:
Agricultural trainings will focus on diversification of crops, namely vegetables, and will use permaculture techniques to promote year-round growing seasons and sustainable water management. The nutritional education component will be directed towards both adults and children. We hope to advocate more nutritious meals and cooking methods with the Mama’s while increasing nutritional awareness among the children.
There are substantial challenges we face in choosing nutrition. As in the US, nutritional knowledge is not enough to change people’s habits, duh. Culture plays a large role in the foods we eat and value and we must work with these, not against to affect small changes. This will be a slow process but one that we are passionate about. Most importantly, we are choosing to work with partners who desire to see a change in the status quo. We are having our first meeting at the beginning of next week, and couldn’t be more excited to get things moving.
– Rachael and Ros