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28 Jun 24

Year 2 results! Start Strong Agricultural programmes

The Start Strong Project: Improving Maternal Health and Reducing Malnutrition in Nepal for 1,000 women and their children in Bajura, Far West Nepal.

The Start Strong Project is an integrated three-year UK Aid Match project, working to embed maternal and child healthcare knowledge and skills within the healthcare system and local community while simultaneously empowering local women with agricultural knowledge, skills, and practical resources to increase their ability to feed their families for at least six months of the year, improving their dietary diversity.

UK Aid Match brings charities, British people, and the UK government together to change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. PHASE Worldwide supporters and Trusts and Foundations gave so generously to our UKAM Appeal in 2021 and we are so pleased to be able to share our progress at the end of Year 2 with you all.

Increasing Availability of High Value Foods and Diet Diversification through Agricultural Activities

The Start Strong Project aims to reduce child malnutrition and improve the availability of nutritious foods so that families can feed themselves for longer, in this food-insecure area.

PHASE Nepal conducted a through Mid-line Evaluation Survey asking our Start Strong female farmers the same questions they asked them at the start of the project for the Baseline Survey:

We are pleased to report that many families can better feed themselves for at least 6 months of the year from their kitchen gardens thanks to improved seeds and agricultural training from PHASE Agricultural Technicians, including resources such as polytunnels, watering cans etc.

Food security increased from 46.4% (baseline) to 57.6% (Y2 target was 50%)

  • Training in Year 2 included: Seed Production Orientation, Spice Crop Harvesting Orientation, Polytunnel Management, Vegetable Nursey Management, as well as conducting chicken, vegetable, mushroom and polytunnel observations and facilitating Female Farmer Group Meetings/Trainings to review activities.
  • PHASE beneficiaries improved their kitchen gardens with different vegetables – seasonal and non-seasonal seeds (cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, coriander, onion, carrot, radish, pumpkin, broccoli, spinach, gourds, brinjal, peas etc.); and spice crops (onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli etc.)
  • Any surplus vegetables after family consumption, many beneficiaries earned money by selling vegetables and utilised that money in day-to-day family expenses. All beneficiaries were organised in the Female Farmers Group to facilitate meetings and training effectively.

Poultry Rearing (chicken cultivation)

The selected beneficiaries were supported with the Giriraj breed of chickens in this project. This breed resembles local chickens in appearance, scavenging habits, disease resistance, and high survivability. The egg production is more than twice, and the meat production is two and a half to three times that of local chicken. This provides families with extra protein and nutrition and extra income from selling eggs or spare chicks or full-grown chickens.

We listened to our beneficiaries: Mushroom cultivation was decreased in Year 2 following beneficiary feedback as more income was able to be produced from poultry rearing due to egg production and sale of meat or chicks. Therefore, from Q2 onwards, poultry distribution was increased in accordance with their wishes to empower mothers to have more economic independence to spend extra income on diversifying their diet, or on household needs.

Dietary Diversity for women increased from 25.1% (baseline) to 59% (Y2 Target was 35%)

An additional positive sign from Mid-Term Survey – 99.1% of women used to consume additional meals during pregnancy and lactating phase. This is encouraging as women need to consume extra calories during these times for healthy condition of both them and their youngest child.

Dietary Diversity for children (6-59 months) increased from 84% to 97.4% (Y2 Target was 85%)

Looking ahead to Year 3:

We will continue the activities: awareness raising activities and agricultural material support with training and technical support. Agriculture practice takes time to make a difference to diet diversity and therefore we will hope to see further improvements in Y3. The agricultural technicians will continue to work closely with households to improve farming techniques with particular attention to Dalit households that are likely to need to grow a lot more from a small patch of land.

Summary:

Progress Against Targets/Milestones – Achieved!

  • 57.6% of women surveyed have produced enough food from their land to meet their families’ needs for at least 6 months of the year: (target was 50%)
  • 59% of mothers have adequate dietary diversity score (target was 35%)
  • 97.4% of children have adequate dietary diversity score (target was 85%)

Thank you again for your support – with our trusted local partner PHASE Nepal delivering all project activities in remote and rural Rugin and Bichhaya – Together we are changing lives in Nepal.


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