Preventing and mitigating periconceptional iron deficiency anemia among women in Ghana through enhanced animal-source food value chains: a formative and feasibility study

Collaborating institutions
University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Ghana, Innovations for Poverty Action
 
Dates: September 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017
Value: $339,467
Country: Ghana
Primary research question: What interventions centered on sustainable and scalable improvements to animal agricultural production and capture have the greatest potential to effectively reduce anemia among WRA, and via which principal pathways?
 
Specific aims
*Aim 1*. Determine the *barriers and facilitating factors* to i) sustainably enhancing production of and income from livestock rearing, wild capture fishing, aquaculture and wild meat harvesting along the food value chain in Ghana, ii) increasing consumption of ASFs among WRA, especially in the periconceptional period, and iii) reducing anemia among these women;
*Aim 2*. Identify the *feasibility of different intervention strategies along the food value chain* related to livestock rearing, wild capture fishing, aquaculture, and wild meat harvesting in Ghana;
*Aim 3. Develop rigorous, field-piloted measurement instruments*to assess animal production and capture, ASF value chain engagement, and dietary intake of ASFs that will be integrated into the evaluation of a second-phase, randomized controlled intervention trial; and
*Aim 4. Bolster the research capacity*of our partner institutions in Ghana, share learning across institutions, and strengthen even further the existing relationships and capacities among our project team.
 
Study design
We carried out *three integrated research components as part of an overall mixed methods study design* that incorporated both qualitative inquiry and empirical analysis of quantitative data. Each component was carried out in three regions of Ghana that have the highest prevalence of anemia in the country, and also represent distinct ecological environments, a diversity of agriculture-related livelihoods, and the diversity of ASFs produced and consumed throughout the country.The components included: 1) *analysis of existing quantitative household survey, health record, and blood specimen data* from Ghana; 2)*carrying out key informant interviews with stakeholders throughout the food value chain *and across the agriculture and health sectors of Ghana; and 3) *pilot testing novel measurement instruments*. Within each component, *we examined five key research domains **with a specific, cross-cutting focus on gender dynamics*: i) animal agricultural production, capture, and management; ii) ASF value chains and markets; iii) purchasing decisions and dietary intake of ASFs; iv) risk of anemia and infection; and v) nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems intervention strategies.
 
Project progress
This study was successfully completed in late 2017. We currently have 1 published manuscript <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29608248> that originated from this work, and 4 other manuscripts currently under review based on this research.