by Jill Ferry (MSc Student, Justus Liebig University Giessen)
The Trials of improved practices (TIPs) is a formative research approach that aims to find reasons for a behaviour change. The nutrition team of EaTSANE decided to use the TIPs method to find out possible strategies for a behaviour change that can be applied on a broader level.
Participants from 8 different villages were visited 3 times by the same TIPs facilitator which enabled them to build up a more personal relationship. During the TIPs sessions tailored recommendations on improved practices were offered, e.g. mothers were encourage to try to include 7 different vegetables for a period of one week. As a motivation the benefits of the improved practices were explained to the participants.
The visits took place every two weeks, which enabled the participants to try out the recommended practices in between. Prior to the TIPs process the nutrition team conducted focus group discussions to generate a seasonal calendar for the following months. The participants mentioned a wide variety of available vegetables that can be found in the following months. However, the rainy season was delayed, and the availability of vegetables was not like anticipated.
For some households the TIPs facilitators built up bonds and the participants were happy when they saw us coming for the follow-up visits. With this positive atmosphere the motivation to try out the improved practices can be observed in the collected data. Sometimes the participants even welcomed us with tea and cooked cassava, when we visited them at midday. But for some others the bonding was more difficult as for the relationship building, personal sympathy cannot be anticipated.
On our last visit we asked the participants about their feedback for this activity and received very positive answers for example: “This has been a good activity which should continue because we have been able to learn a lot”