My practicum was for a health nutrition program in Uganda. BRAC International-Uganda (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) is implementing a Japan Social Development Fund financed program through the World Bank called “An Innovative, Integrated Approach to Enhance Smallholder Family Nutrition” in four districts (Lukaya, Kyotera, Kabwohe and Ibanda) of southwestern Uganda. It is an agriculture and nutrition project that is aligned with the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan, and its ultimate goal is to reduce malnutrition among women of reproductive age, infants and young children through 2016.
As a result, 19,200 poor smallholder farmers’ households were selected in different clusters (villages) in these four districts. Interventions were implemented to improve nutrition status by promoting cultivation and consumption of nutrient-rich crops, focusing on orange flesh sweet potato (agricultural program). Also, we improved health care and nutritional practices of reproductive age mothers, pregnant mothers, adolescent girls and children under the age of 2.
I worked on the Growth, Monitoring and Promotion (GMP) program, which was conducted to reach two main objectives: increase the percentage of infants 0–5 months who are exclusively breastfed (from baseline 10 percent to end line 15 percent), and increase the percentage of children ages 6–23 months who have minimum dietary diversity (from baseline 57 percent to end line 67 percent). In order to further these objectives, one of my central tasks was to evaluate current program implementation of GMP and to figure out the gaps in program implementation, especially related to program participation, data gathering and reporting and monitoring.
What skills did you gain during your practicum?
As part of a team responsible for identifying program implementation deficits and suggesting recommendations for improvement, I reviewed available project documents including the detailed project implementation manual and training and BCC materials to understand the program better and to see where potential gaps were. I regularly visited project areas to familiarize myself with project staff and their activities, specifically in areas of child malnutrition, child micronutrient deficiency, child growth deficiencies, maternal health and nutritional needs and hygiene (hand washing), while providing technical input to ongoing child nutrition activities with specific focus on GMP sessions.
I was expected to help identify gaps in program implementation and participation, especially data reporting and monitoring. I was also expected to summarize and present my findings to the relevant stakeholders both as a mid-program presentation and a final report at the end of my program tenure.