Listen, Collaborate & Adapt: Increased Male Engagement for Resiliency in Northern Ghana
The USAID Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) Project had notable success in its first three years of integrated agriculture, nutrition, livelihoods and sanitation programming to improve nutrition and household resiliency within the most vulnerable homes in the Northern Region. One area of project focus is women’s economic and socio-cultural empowerment as a way to improve family nutrition. RING’s Theory of Change (TOC) on this objective is that, if women have more firsthand nutrition knowledge, have the ability to diversify incomes and diets, and have expanded savings and credit access, they will re-invest gains into the overall welfare of their family, particularly the children. In general, this TOC held true, with the exception of some programmatic gaps that emerged midway through the project. Most notably, RING’s lack of focus on men (traditional family heads in project implementation areas) meant that, even if women had an increased understanding of key nutrition and hygiene behaviors, their husbands were unconvinced of the need to make investments in at least basic supplies and infrastructure to facilitate improved nutrition and sanitation behaviors.
To address these gaps, RING (a partnership between USAID, Global Communities, and Government of Ghana [GOG] district and regional offices) identified two interventions – Gender Model Family (GMF) and Father to Father Support Groups (FTFSG) – as ways to more deliberately engage men in areas typically reserved for women. Though these activities are still in the pilot phase, initial positive results have emerged per feedback from participating men and their wives. The use of key CLA principles such as re-examining the project’s TOC, collaborating internally and externally across technical areas, piloting new approaches, utilizing quantitative and qualitative data to inform project change, and being willing to adapt activities to meet project demands proved extremely effective. It ensured that project adaptation was deliberate, collaborative and based on project-generated evidence.