An evaluation of the community strategies of the national food and nutrition commission

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Mulenga, Allan
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University of Zambia
There have been significant strides in combating malnutrition in Zambia, particularly undernutrition among low income groups, women and children. The country was one of the first signatories to improving national nutritional status by scaling-up nutrition interventions, with emphasis on the First 1000 Most Critical Days Programme (the period from conception up to two years of life). Zambia has since reduced the levels of stunting among children under the age of five years from 45% to 40%. The Government through the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC) also planned to reach out to school children and young adults with up-to-date nutrition information that motivates behaviour change communication and improved nutritional status. This study was undertaken to evaluate the communication strategies the NFNC uses to communicate and reach out to the public. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods in gathering the data. 100 respondents from the five wards in Lusaka‟s Matero Constituency systematically selected were interviewed and 80 self-administered questionnaires were purposively distributed. The researcher used this method for the NFNC staff, and Government officials from key line ministries. The study also examined five opinion leaders‟ perceptions towards feeding habits through in-depth interviews. The researcher used the manual method for qualitative data gathered from the documentary evidence, interviews, as well as participant observation and the computer, where the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) software was applied for descriptive statistics and frequencies of distribution. The study established that all respondents were aware of the communication strategies the NFNC uses to communicate nutrition messages. However, there was a variation in responses when respondents were asked to determine the effectiveness of the communication strategies and the messages used. 42.5% indicated that communication strategies used were less effective, 22.5% were not sure, and 20% stated that they were effective, while 13.8% indicated that they were not effective. Only 1.3% said they were very effective. Equally, 80% stated that the messages and language used had failed to change people‟s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour towards malnutrition. The study recommended that the NFNC needed to use all media tools in its communication strategies. Further, the study recommended that tailoredmade messages and user-friendly language be used for specific targeted audience so that the communication strategies can be effective.
Master of Communication for Development
Food and Nutrition , Zambia – National Food and Nutrition Commission