The HealthyFoodAfrica Food Systems Lab Accra’s scoping exercise is geared towards ascertaining the overall picture of the food system in selected coastal communities with special focus on fishing communities. To do this, we sought to engage stakeholders along the fish value chain at the household and community levels, identify any possible shortfalls in the current food systems, design innovative ways to improve food utilization, consumption, and improve nutrition. Our study aims at providing nutritional surveillance and evidential data for future nutrition programming in hope that the evidence gathered will form the basis for developing behaviour changing communication strategies and tools that will enhance nutrition knowledge and general dietary intake in the target communities.
The data collection exercise kicked off in all the mapped study areas of Greater Accra Region in both urban and rural areas. Our team consisted of two research assistants, three enumerators, one local liaison officer from each district assembly, and a nutritionist. A multistage approach to sampling was adapted for the scoping exercise.
In the first stage, the coastal belt was divided into four zones: west, east, south, and central zones. Based on plausible literature, a list of all urban and rural communities from each zone was populated highlighting the distribution of endemic poverty areas to insure a geographical spread. Secondly, two communities from each were purposely selected; one from urban/peri-urban and one from rural, to capture geographic differences. In the third stage, a simple random sampling technique will be employed to select 103 households/individual subjects within each of the selected zone.
In each district, the first day was used for field mapping and household enumeration. The enumerators with the help of the local liaison had called the households in advance to book appointments and arrived at the specific households at the scheduled time to conduct the survey. To ensure ease of accessibility when seeking consent from the participants and explaining the study objectives to the households, surveys were conducted in local languages where necessary. The whole survey involved interviewing the respondents to get the background information of the household and conducting the 24-hour dietary recalls. After each data collection day, the enumerators sent the electronic forms to the server from where the researchers were able to pick them up and check data to correct any mistakes and clarify uncertainties with the enumerators.
Purposeful sampling was used to select participants for the individual and focus group discussion respectively as depicted above. An average number of 30 participants were recruited through the local liaison in each study community and randomly distributed by simple lottery into 5 groups with at least 3 females and a youth in each discussion group.
The discussions were divided in two parts with the first session dealing with how different societal, structural, and cultural factors influence food habits and dietary practices in households across the study populations. The insight from the main themes around food were then narrowed down to factors affecting fish consumption and utilization. The second part of the discussions bordered around stakeholder-specific factors that affect access, availability, utilization, and affordability of fish. The discussions also explored interlinkages between supply and consumption patterns to identify key change agents and understand possible routes for nutrition education that can build on existing social networks for behaviour change communication.
More about the results of our scoping exercise in the future blogs!
Blog written by Food System Lab Accra Team: Ruth Gumah, Jolene Nyako, Frank Peget, Soma-Mahme Loobod, Hilary Kwesi Ketemepi, Emmanuel Kuwornu, Amy Atter, Stephen Nketia, Seth K. Agyakwah and Queronica Q. Quartey