Resilience building by promoting the adoption of positive nutrition behaviours through consumption of locally available foods

Dietary changes can be influenced by many factors such as geographical, environmental, social, and economic factors over time. This mean that factors such as migration, income, prices, individual preferences, beliefs, and cultural traditions influence food choices continuously and has caused changes in the quality and quantity of food consumption patterns in many countries, races, social classes, and cultures including Zimbabwe. Current climate adaptation strategies include animal and crop diversification with emphasis on drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum and millet to promote resilience amongst the Zimbabwean populations.

 These crops that have largely been replaced by exotic crops were part of Zimbabwean traditional diets for ages. Evidence based research has shown that the reception or rejection of food is a complex phenomenon which is influenced by an individual’s attitude and by individuals interaction within a community in different contexts and over different periods . More so personal factors such as beliefs, food preferences, self-efficacy, and biological changes can influence one’s eating patterns, while environmental factors including the immediate social environment such as family, friends, and peer networks, and other factors such as school, fast food outlets, social and cultural norms reinforce the eating patterns within a given population. The perceptions and attitudes around traditional food consumption reveal that these foods have been regarded as poor man’s food hence the decreased popularity . 

Traditional foods have been cultivated for subsistence purposes and to build resilience in local farming communities as well as in other African countries, to some extent they are also used for commercial purposes. Considering the rich biodiversity in Zimbabwe, communities are thus encouraged to consume indigenous and traditional foods as part of the dietary diversification strategy for sustainable nutrition and health. Food fairs create a unique opportunity to promote behaviour change as people get to start thinking about how and why we eat the way we do, in a fun, creative and sustainable way.

Nutrition Action Zimbabwe (NAZ) supported by UNICEF is imparting sustainable knowledge and skills within the ZRBF Resilience building program in 18 districts of Zimbabwe namely Nyanga, Mbire, Kariba, Mudzi, Mutoko, Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Binga, Lupane, Nkayi, Bubi, Umguza, Umzingwane, Insiza, Matopos, Beitbridge, Mberengwa and Zvishavane through the Care group approach to achieve recommended practices essential for optimum nutrition and health. The project therefore is strengthening communities’ resilience to repeated shocks as communities participate in food fairs and cooking demonstrations where they are able to develop local recipes to ensure proper preparation of a 4-Star diet on daily basis. The communities are able to group locally available foods according to their food groups, enabling them to prepare meal plans which are nutritious for the whole family hence the ability to solve their nutrition challenges.

 

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