by Paulina Kossmann (BSc Nutrition and Home Economics, Justus Liebig University Giessen )
As a closure for the first Trials of Improved Practices (TIPs) sessions, evaluation workshops were held in Kapchorwa, Uganda and Teso South Sub-County, Kenya. The workshops included a participatory cooking session and a visit to the demonstration plots of work package 1.
During the TIPs session, facilitators visited households for individual nutrition counseling regarding legume and vegetable consumption. The aim of the workshops was to provide opportunities for the participating women to share their experiences regarding the TIPs sessions among each other. Their husbands were also invited to participate because their opinion on for example the new meal composition can be crucial to the successful testing of the recommendations provided within the TIPs process.
Four workshops were conducted in both countries. The workshops took place on a venue close to an EaTSANE field demonstration plot and addressing the participants from the neighboring villages included in the trials. We started off in Kapchorwa, Uganda and continued the work in Teso South Sub-County, Kenya.
Prior to the workshops, the TIPs facilitators developed together with us the workshop agenda. They were the main facilitators for these days. First they explained to us the TIPs messages they communicated with the mothers and the reactions they received in regard to improved practices. Then, we talked about the recipes that we would cook with the mothers during the workshops. As the main focus of the first round of TIPs was laid on vegetables and legumes, we concentrated on the issues of soaking (legumes) and the use of soda ash (in vegetables). For Uganda we decided to cook a bean stew enriched with eggplants, tomatoes and onions, and cowpea leaves cooked with amaranth (dodo) in a groundnut sauce. In Kenya we cooked an improved githeri (beans and maize) with yellow sweet potatoes and amaranth, and vegetables containing sun hemp, pumpkin and cowpea leaves, again with a groundnut sauce. In each workshop two teams of mothers would cook the dishes as recommended in the TIPs, while two other teams would cook the beans/vegetables in a common way, using unsoaked beans and soda ash.
The workshops began with the team arriving at the venues and putting up the fire places for the three stone cooking fires. Then we would start preparing tea, which was a delicate issue for some: “What needs to be cooked first, milk or water?” Finally, we were ready to welcome the participants. Usually we began with an introduction on the objectives and the activities of the workshop. The team in Uganda even prepared a song (including nutritious messages) that we sang in the beginning to create a deeper connection with the participants.
At first, the women started to prepare the ingredients for the recipes in four different groups each led by one facilitator. The following steps were slightly different at each site, but they all included a visit to the demonstration plot, the cooking and tea somewhere in between, and most important part – the tasting. We divided the women in two groups and separated the men's group to have discussions that included a choice experiment on which recipe the participants preferred, common or „recommend“ and a discussion on the “Why did you select the dish?”. After all groups finished discussing, it was time to serve lunch. The food that was cooked was always enough to feed everybody (even some children that stayed around) so we could enjoy it all together. After that each workshop ended up being a bit different from the one the day before, but every time we learned something to do better on the next day.
After two weeks of hard work, the workshops for the first round of TIPs were done. It was a great experience, for the participants who could see what is happening in the project with the visit to the demonstration plots and also which recommendations tested during the TIPs were put into practice, but also for us because we learned a lot about the perception of the project and how it is actually influencing the entire household.