Toward more nutritious diets for young children in southern Bangladesh: Assessing the contribution of Community Nutrition Scholars and identifying constraints to utilization of orange-fleshed sweetpotato

This study seeks to assess progress so far towards achieving Output 4 of the project ‘Strengthening food system
resilience in Asia’s mega deltas with salt-tolerant sweetpotato and potato’, namely increased utilization of
improved OFSP and P varieties by target households (HHs), especially to support and improve the nutrition of
small children. The intervention strategy to achieve that output involved combining nutrition and hygiene
education given by a cadre of community nutrition scholars (CNS) to mothers of small children combined with
the distribution of planting material of nutritionally beneficial crops to those women. This assessment uses sexspecific Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with selected women participants in the training and selected male
spouses or other male relatives of women who participated, with one female and one male FGD located in each
of the sub-districts (upazilas) targeted in the training interventions. In addition, two FGDs were conducted with
CNS, one in each of the target districts. FGDs were adapted to the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, so
numbers of women and men were smaller than a normal FGD and the timing of the FGD shorter. The CNS FGDs
were maintained at a more regular size (10 persons) to capture experiences from the different sub-districts. The
FGDs aimed to understand whether the participation by mothers in the CNS training program resulted in changes
in mothers’ and fathers’ knowledge and behavior that in turn contributed to children’s improved nutrition and
health. The study also examined what were the specific constraints and opportunities involved in the utilization
of OFSP as a nutritional food for young children.