Doing a qualitative assessment for Nutrition
Qualitative assessments might be carried out before we have made a detailed MEL plan, to understand the situation better or after we have started some quantitative assessments to understand more fully what is happening. They can also be part of the impact evaluation.
It is recommended to follow the mini course on Data that introduces qualitative data and quantitative data and some principles about assessments of both types of data:
So how do we collect some qualitative data related to Nutrition?
Having prepared your logframe- several questions will have arisen that you need to include in your qualitative assessment- such as the outputs or outcomes of training sessions.
How to do your assessment, briefly
- Devise your questions
- Test your questions on a small group
- Adjust the question to make sure it is well understood
- If in doubt, drop the question and make the questionnaire short
- Follow up on interesting or unexpected findings
- Record answers briefly- ideally someone else does this as you ask the questions
- Practice ‘sampling to redundancy’
- Observe the environment and take notes from what you see related to your questions
- Report your answers to stakeholders
We need to focus our own questions depending on the stage of the project
Some formative research questions:
- What types of malnutrition are there present?
- Why would a child be malnourished in your context?
- What are the most serious causes of malnutrition?
- What change do you hope to achieve
Process evaluation questions:
- How well is the project doing according to our plans?
- Are we doing the right activities to address the problems in the area?
- Who has received the most benefit and who is not reached?
- Are we targeting the appropriate people?
- Why have certain activities been taken up or not been taken up by many individuals?
Impact evaluation questions:
- Has the project achieved (or on track to achieve) lasting change?
- Have the problems initially identified improved?
- Have there been unforeseen improvements or harmful effects?
The idea is to plan the following
- Who would you interview?
- What would you ask them?
- Anything else you would observe?
Some possible questions to ask community members
For example a new practice, or technique or behaviour has been taught (x)
Possible Questions addressed to the caregiver of young children relating to diet:
- What different types of food are available to your household since adopting x
- Do you feel that since adopting (x) you are able to provide enough food for yourself, your children and your family compared to beforehand?
- How are diets affected by any changes to production following (x) ?
- Are any new foods utilised by households since beforehand?
- What foods do you give to your child aged 6 to 24 months?
- Has there been any change in the way you feed your children now you practice (x) compared to beforehand
- How do you think (x) can be adapted to provide for a full nutritious diet?
Possible questions related to women’s time and nutrition
- Would you say your work involved in (x) is light, moderate or heavy compared to before? Why?
- Which season(s) require the most time on (x) activities for you personally ?
- How have you spent any time saved? (probe – income generating, etc)
- Are there times in the year when you have less time to care for your children and nurse your baby?
- Do you think there is a difference between (x) and beforehand in the time you have available during the year for child care?
Example from ‘Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs’
Questions to ask individual Club Members (children)
- Which year did you attend Permaculture Club?
Thinking about your own permaculture garden bed at school:
- Which foods have you produced?
- What did you do with the food that you grew?
- (If eaten) What did you eat? Were there any new foods that you have grown and eaten through doing permaculture? If so, how was it / were they prepared / cooked? Did you like it / them? Would you eat them again?
Now thinking about your home and garden / small-holding / farm:
- Are you or your family doing any permaculture at home or in your garden / small-holding / farm?
- If so , what?
- What do you / they do with that food that is produced using permaculture?
Finally ask their name, age, village where staying. Note date of interview and name of school.