Menu ENN Search

Process learning: field testing a social and behaviour change guide for nutrition-sensitive agriculture

By Sarah Titus

Sarah Titus is the food security and nutrition manager with Save the Children for USAID’s global nutrition project, SPRING. She has a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and over a decade of experience working in livelihoods and food security programming for international NGOs.  

Among the project staff sat an agricultural officer, an older gentleman who had been working in the development field for several decades. He looked concerned as the SPRING team spoke with workshop participants about opportunities to enhance the nutrition-sensitivity of the agriculture practices their project promotes. When the SPRING team discussed how participating in value-chain projects could increase the burdens on women’s time and labour and therefore pose a risk to their own and their children’s nutrition, the agriculture officer finally spoke. He said, “For 30 years, we have been told that we need to involve women more in agriculture and income-generation projects, and now you are telling me this is a bad thing?” His frustration was evident. What was he supposed to do with the new information we were providing?

This incident occurred at a workshop in May 2015 to pilot test the Behaviour Change Guide for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture, being developed by the Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project. SPRING is a five-year, USAID-funded project that works to strengthen global and country efforts to scale up high impact nutrition practices.

The SPRING team is developing the guide to respond to a growing need for practical advice on how to make agriculture more nutrition-sensitive. Following the release of SPRING’s conceptual framework linking agriculture and nutrition (see reference at end of article), we recognised the need to help implementers operationalise the three main pathways linking agriculture and nutrition—income, production, and women’s empowerment. The guide introduces key concepts and models from the fields of nutrition, agriculture, and social and behaviour change (SBC). When applied to project design, implementation and monitoring, these concepts can form an effective approach for achieving nutrition improvements through agriculture. Box 1 gives an overview of guide content.

Box 1: Summary of SPRING’s Behaviour Change Guide for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture

Key components of the guide include:

- Review and application of the agriculture-to-nutrition pathways

- Identification of priority agriculture practices that contribute to nutrition outcomes

- Guiding questions to refine and prioritise key nutrition-sensitive agriculture practices

- Presentation of key Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) models and how they can be applied

- Tips for targeting priority practices

- Elements of an SBC strategy

- Additional resources for SBC strategy development

To ensure that the guide is as accessible, relevant and useful for agriculture project designers and implementers as possible, the SPRING team is field-testing the content, format and tools included in the guide. The testing protocol used in the first field site consisted of: a learner needs assessment; workshop slides and handouts; a session observation guide; and a workshop evaluation. We conducted the first field test with a USAID project in Central Asia that is working to strengthen value chains and build the capacity of small- and medium-size enterprises. The testing involved three SPRING staff and a range of project participants, including nutrition and gender specialists, monitoring and evaluation officers, and agriculture officers.

Learning from the field test

The field-testing protocol emphasised process learning for both SPRING staff and the value chain project participants so that all stakeholders benefited from the effort. Key findings and results included:

What of the frustrated agriculture officer who was wondering why increasing women’s participation in agriculture and income-generation activities was suddenly problematic? His question prompted great discussion among project and SPRING staff. Women have always been participants in agriculture; what is different now is that their contributions are better recognised and there is an understanding that they, too, need access to supportive services (e.g. extension, technologies and credit). At the same time, workshop participants discussed the importance of strengthening compensating measures in communities and families to support women’s participation, while also ensuring they have enough time, energy and other resources to care for themselves and their children. This discussion resulted in historically siloed staff coming together and developing a common language that will help them to continue to work together across their sectors.

SPRING recognises the challenges inherent in asking practitioners to change the way they work - in any sector. We are excited to help and the field testing process is proving fruitful in this regard. On the one hand, it is helping SPRNG to ensure applicability of the guide. At the same time, it is provoking rich discussions and better understanding of terms and approaches among development experts in different sectors who are grappling with the challenges inherent to integrated programming.

Our learning from the field test has resulted in some significant adjustments to the guide’s format and is informing changes to the protocol before testing the guide with a second project towards the end of 2015. From that second round of process learning, we anticipate finalising the guide, disseminating it widely, and using it - along with other design and monitoring-related tools - to provide technical assistance to Feed the Future partners in various countries throughout the coming year.

For more details about the development of the Behaviour Change Guide for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and other aspects of SPRING’s work, please visit here or contact here.

For more information, consult  the Improving Nutrition through Agriculture Technical Brief Series, for a detailed introduction to the pathways-between-agriculture-and-nutrition framework (SPRING, Understanding the Primary Pathways and Principles: Brief #1, Improving Nutrition through Agriculture Technical Brief Series, Arlington, VA: USAID/Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) Project, 2014). Available here.

More like this

FEX: Using trials of improved practices to shift nutrition and hygiene behaviours in Sierra Leone

By Jennifer Pietropaoli, Philip Moses and Heather Forrester View this article as a pdf Jennifer Pietropaoli is the Outreach and Communications Officer for the SPRING Project....

en-net: SPRING seeks Instructional Design Consultant - Ag and SBC focused

Learn more and Apply here: [url][/url] A. Background: The SPRING Project is a...

FEX: Community video in the Sahel: from pilot to scale

By Alix Harou, Marjolein Moreaux and Leanne Dougherty View this article as a pdf Alix Harou has a background in national and international public health and currently works...

FEX: SPRING (Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally)

Name: SPRING (Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally) Established: 2011 (5 year USAID funded project) Address: JSI Research & Training...

FEX: Operational factors in the integration of nutrition into agriculture and livelihoods programmes in Zimbabwe

By Anne-Marie Mayer, Rose Ndolo and Jane Keylock View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Anne-Marie Mayer works as a consultant for programmes at...

en-net: Concern seeking Trials for Improved Practice Study consultant, Uganda

Proposed Visit Date: June 2013 Reports to: RWANU Health and Nutrition Director and ACPD-Programmes 1. Introduction & Background: Concern Worldwide (Concern), ACDI/VOCA and...

FEX: Increasing nutrition-sensitivity of value chains: a review of two Feed the Future Projects in Guatemala

By Alyssa Klein Alyssa Klein is a food security and nutrition specialist with JSI Research & Training Institute on the Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in...

FEX: Introduction to the special issue

The most recent Lancet series on maternal and child undernutrition (Bhutta et al, 2013) calculated that even with 90% coverage of specific nutrition interventions (addressing...

FEX: A multisector approach to monitoring planned and actual nutrition spending

By Amanda Pomeroy-Stevens, Alexis D'Agostino, Madhukar B Shrestha and Abel Muzoora View this article as a pdf Amanda Pomeroy-Stevens is Research and Evaluation Advisor on the...

FEX: New online training: Accelerating behaviour change in nutrition-sensitive agriculture from the SPRING project

The Accelerating Behavior Change in Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture online training is a one to two-day course for people who design and implement agriculture projects. It...

FEX: Recommendations for multi-sector nutrition planning: Cross-context lessons from Nepal and Uganda

By Amanda Pomeroy-Stevens, Heather Viland and Sascha Lamstein Lisez cet article en français ici Amanda Pomeroy-Stevens is a Research and Evaluation Advisor on the...

FEX: The potential of nutrition-sensitive Conservation Agriculture: lessons from Zambia

By Anne Marie Mayer, Marjolein-Mwanamwenge and Carl Whal Anne Marie Mayer works as a freelance nutritionist specialising in the links between agriculture and nutrition. She...

NEX: Singing the same song: Nutrition-sensitive agriculture messages in Zambia

Bertha Munthali has worked for ten years on nutrition in agriculture in Africa, and is currently advisor for the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis...

FEX: Getting on the same page: Reaching across disciplinary boundaries to improve nutrition

By Lidan Du and Heather Danton Lidan Du is a public health nutritionist with a PhD in international nutrition from Cornell University and over 15 years' experience in...

FEX: SPRING through the seasons

View this article as a pdf The Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project has now closed. SPRING was funded by the United...

FEX: Experience of intersectoral integration in an NGO nutrition programme and a typology for programme design

By Aaron Buchsbaum and Jody Harris Jody Harris is a Senior Research Analyst in the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute....

FEX: Nutrition-sensitive agriculture: What have we learned and where do we go from here?

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Agriculture has strong potential to improve nutrition outcomes through improving food availability and access and through...

FEX: Improving nutritional outcomes of rural households through a community-based approach in Ethiopia

This article has been updated since the original version was published in March 2020. View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Haimanot Abebe,...

FEX: National social assistance programmes to improve child nutrition: Lessons from Burundi, Ethiopia and Tanzania

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Chloe Angood is a Knowledge Management for Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa...

FEX: Delivery of maternal nutrition interventions at scale and mainstreaming into the health system in Bangladesh

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Deborah Ash, Zeba Mahmud, Kristen Kappos, Santhia Ireen and Thomas Forissier Deborah Ash is Project...


Reference this page

Sarah Titus (). Process learning: field testing a social and behaviour change guide for nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Field Exchange 51, January 2016. p96.



Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.