Stop, Reflect, Improve: Using CLA to Engage Men to Improve Women's and Children’s Health
Creating behavior change is often an incremental process. So how do you know when to try a new approach? This winning Collaborating, Learning and Adapting Case Competition submission from The Manoff Group describes why, despite positive momentum, the Amalina Program chose to pause and take a calculated risk to improve breastfeeding behavior in western Zimbabwe.
Development Challenge: The Amalima Program in western Zimbabwe, funded by Food For Peace, was successful in increasing the percentage of mothers reporting that they were exclusively breastfeeding, but the quality of individual breastfeeding sessions did not improve. They discovered that it was necessary to educate men about the value of breastfeeding due to their belief that mothers were lazy if they sat to breastfeed for the proper time. As a result, the program needed to develop a better strategy to engage them.
- Pause & Reflect: The team saw good results in outcome indicators, but data showed that there was an opportunity to increase impact by improving the quality of practiced behaviors. Pausing when there was positive momentum was a risk, and the team considered continuing without changes to their approach. However, management was open to the proposed improvements and supported the decision to take a calculated risk.
- Adaptive Management: The team developed and piloted a research-informed strategy to increase male involvement in breastfeeding.
- Continuous Learning & Improvement: After the pilot concluded, the team held a workshop to examine what was planned, what actually occurred, what worked well and what needed to be improved before expansion.
Outcomes: Women in the pilot area reported more supportive behaviors by their partners than women in the control area. There was also an increase in the number of men involved in program activities once seen as "women only" activities. Organizationally, the team culture has shifted to become more open to identifying, testing and scaling up new ideas. A learning committee was established to continue leveraging M&E for learning and engaging with community members to strengthen the program.
This blog post is part of a series featuring the 10 winners of the 2017 Collaborating, Learning and Adapting Case Competition. A new case will be posted on USAID Learning Lab each Thursday: October 12 - December 14.