Budikadidi Internal Collaboration Drives Improved Integration and Nutrition in the DRC
Proven interventions are typically designed to address a particular challenge, but vulnerable families do not see their lives as 'sectors' and face intertwined constraints. Collaborating and learning across sectors – in this case the gender and health sectors – to refine proven approaches for greater synergy can lead to better outcomes. At the start of its Development Food Security Activity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Catholic Relief Services carried out a detailed gender analysis. The analysis suggested that the project's planned approach for improving health and nutrition practices among women was inconsistent with prevailing gender dynamics where men made decisions and controlled resources. Empowered by USAID's Refine and Implement approach and by the project leadership's push for working multi-sectorally, the gender and nutrition teams collaborated internally to adapt planned approaches. The teams worked jointly to build a robust, integrated theory of change that articulated relationships between gender dynamics and health outcomes. Teams then collaborated to refine activities to improve couples' communication and joint decision-making to incorporate specific health and nutrition content, and revise nutrition approaches to put more emphasis on including men. The teams continue to conduct joint planning, joint field visits, and regular joint review meetings, and actively seek opportunities to further strengthen each other's work. After four years, an external evaluation found that both men and women have improved knowledge of health and nutrition, and men are less likely to make decisions alone about their wives' and children's health. Health systems data shows increased uptake of preventative health services.
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