PASSIVE FATHERS TO ACTIVE FATHERS
AN ALIVE AND THRIVE SUCCESS STORY
Men breastfeeding guardian set up platform for resolving breastfeeding conflicts
Men/Husbands in Olode Apapa ward, Apapa Local Government Area one of the 10 LGAs benefiting from Alive and Thrive’s breastfeeding promotion interventions in Lagos state. They have shifted from passive attitude to discussing options of optimizing breastfeeding and resolving breastfeeding decision conflicts amicably with their wives and other women of reproductive age group in the interest of healthy growth of their children. This development evolved following engagement of men in the Breastfeeding guardian initiative which effectively commenced in February 2019. It was designed to rally community support towards shifting old breastfeeding norms to recommended IYCF practices.
The novel breastfeeding guardian model initiative by Alive & Thrive was implemented between March and November 2019 in the intervention Local Government Areas in Lagos state on the project. The model which engaged community influencers as breastfeeding guardians within the intervention communities promoted male involvement as well in addressing breastfeeding norms at the community level.
Particularly in Olode Apapa, a fifty-four-year-old community leader Hamzat Kolapo was engaged as a breastfeeding guardian. With enthusiasm, Hamzat engaged other men to promote breastfeeding through one-on-one conversations leveraging town hall meetings. The platform initiated by Hamzat allowed a huge number of women to discuss with men on the issues hindering breastfeeding best practices. In a community where men are predominantly speakers at town hall meetings, having a breastfeeding guardian as a community leader created an avenue for women to air their opinion. The Voices heard further promoted an atmosphere that will sustain optimal breastfeeding within the community. At larger community leaders’ meetings outside the intervention communities, he also used his mandate as a breastfeeding guardian to cascade breastfeeding messages and encouraged the leaders present to replicate such within their communities.
Hamzat later became the rallying point where couples with children under six resolved challenging BF decisions in favor of recommended IYCF practices. Following various success attributed to Hamzat’s innovation as a BF guardian, 11 additional wards in Apapa LGA have replicated the model.
Igabi ward fathers advocacy earns children better nutrition
Children of six months and above in rural Igabi ward/community, Igabi Local government area of Kaduna state now have increased access to more varieties of complementary foods especially proteins. This development is a product of advocacy efforts embarked on by fathers of children of six months and above who were strategically engaged to support and provide basic complementary food for their children. In 2019, Alive and Thrive implemented dietary diversity intervention in six wards including Igabi ward where fathers of children, 6months and above were selected, engaged and exposed to a set of knowledge oriented dietary as diversity interventions including religious sermons, community-based group meetings, mass media as well as SMS and whatsapp messaging. These interventions also emphasize on the importance of optimizing dietary diversity for heathy growth and well-being of their children.
The father’s desire and efforts to procure recommended food as well as ensure their children enjoy nutritional benefits of these food items is hindered by high costs of certain food items especially meat and fish. Despite the high cost of meat and fish, the commitment of the fathers based on the projects effort encouraged them to advocate to meat and fish seller’s association in Igabi LGA for a reduction in cost of these items. The association’s leadership rapidly effected a reduction in the minimum size of meat and fish sold in Igabi community for (N500.00) five hundred naira to a smaller size which is now sold for (N200.00) two hundred naira only. This reduction increased father’s access to fish and meat, thus their children now receive more varieties of complementary food including meat which is ultimately improving the well-being and heathy growth of their children.