The "invisible fishers": Empowering and safeguarding women in fisheries value chains in Ghana to reduce anemia

Collaborating institutions: University of Michigan, University of Ghana, Viamo, Innovations for Poverty Action, Netherlands Development Organization
Dates: November 30, 2017 to December 31, 2019
Value: $1,287,885
Country: Ghana
Primary research objective
*Develop, adapt, and pilot test a set of interventions *into fisheries value chains in Ghana aimed at mitigating anemia among women
Specific aims
  1. define the *scope, feasibility, and scalability* of priority intervention strategies that have been identified through our ongoing formative research,
  2. *adapt the interventions* to the proposed study contexts, and
  3. *design and pilot test specific implementation strategies*, as well as a *monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework* for assessing intervention delivery, uptake, impacts, and mechanisms of impact at multiple loci along hypothesized program impact pathways.
Study design
The design of this pilot research will mimic that of a RCT with *three distinct treatments delivered to women in separate study arms*, each arm reflecting the priority intervention strategies identified through our ongoing formative research:
  • Treatment Arm 1 (TA1): a *multi-sectoral anemia behavior change intervention* focused on promoting a diversity of anemia-mitigating behaviors including consumption of micronutrient-rich ASFs, malaria and soil-transmitted helminth control practices, and water, sanitation and hygiene best practices (TA1 is also a component of Treatment Arms 2 and 3);
  • Treatment Arm 2 (TA2): an intervention aimed at *strengthening women fish processors’ engagement with markets *through a group-based microcredit scheme, providing entrepreneurship training, and facilitating enhanced access to market price information;**
  • Treatment Arm 3 (TA3): an intervention introducing *improved fish smoking technology and practices* to women processors aimed both at improving earnings and reducing harmful occupational exposures associated with fish smoking.
We will recruit a total of 120 total participants from 12 communites in *two regions of Ghana* that**represent marine and fresh water small-scale fisheries systems. Participants will be recruited into a *nine-month pilot intervention* with data collection occurring at baseline prior to the start of the intervention, at the middle point of intervention implementation, and at endline immediately following completion of intervention implementation. We will use *survey-based instruments, direct observation, participant diaries, anthropometric and dietary assessment, occupational exposure assessment*, as well as *analysis of blood and stool specimens* to evaluate changes in anemia, micronutrient status, inflammation and infection, as well as changes in participants’ knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and exposures that we hypothesize are linked to intervention exposure. Such an analysis is critical for understanding the relative importance of different mechanisms of impact for each intervention. We will further carry out *qualitative, semi-structured interviews with study participants and project implementation staff* to understand theirperceptions of the interventions, factors that facilitated or prevented successful implementation and uptake of interventions, and their perceptions of positive and negative changes resulting from participation in the project
Project progress
The project is currently ongoing. Baseline data collection began at the end of May and will continue into June with an anticipated start of intervention implementation in July (with completion in March 2019).