Understanding nutrition practices through a behaviour change lens to guide design and delivery of services in Timor-Leste

Hamutuk team and enumerators for formative research

Tulodo, on behalf of the Partnership for Human Development (PHD) Timor-Leste has been conducting a formative research study on nutrition behaviours in Holarua, Manufahi in Timor-Leste. Using qualitative approaches, the team is assessing complementary feeding, continued breastfeeding and related WASH behaviours (use of safe drinking water, access to improved sanitation and washing hands with soap at critical times). The formative research will inform the design and delivery of the Hamutuk (Tetum language for ‘together’) program, a four-year innovative nutrition program (2015-2019) funded by Australian Aid. Hamutuk is a collaboration of more than 20 government and non-government organisations from multiple sectors working together to reduce the prevalence of stunting in children under two-years of age.

Infant and young child feeding practices directly affect the nutritional status of children under two years of age and, ultimately, impact child survival. Poor nutrition at this stage can result in greater susceptibility to disease, poorer education outcomes and reduced life opportunities. Improving infant and young child feeding practices in children 0–23 months of age is therefore critical to improved nutrition, health and development of children. Furthermore, there is a link between feeding and WASH practices, particularly use of safe drinking water, access to improved sanitation and washing hands with soap at critical times. Practicing good food safety and personal hygiene is important for preparing safe and healthy complementary foods and feeding children.

The Hamutuk formative research data collection was conducted in May 2018, with a total number of 27 mothers and 11 fathers with children under 2 years age participating. The study also examined stakeholder roles and attitudes, with a total of 19  local government agencies, local NGOs, international NGOs and kiosks/shops in Holarua participating in the study.

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Hamutuk team and enumerators for formative research

The analysis will use the principles of Behaviour Centred Design (BCD), most comprehensively detailed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)  We will also use behavioural determinants (the Opportunity-Ability-Motivation framework) to organise the findings and the Behaviour Change Wheel (Michie, van Stralen, & West, 2011) to frame the recommendations. The results will be used to provide recommendations on program and policy interventions and will be tailored to fit the needs of the Hamutuk program. The results of the study are coming soon!



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Heribertus Rinto Wibowo

A public health enthusiast, passionate about the science of health promotion, tobacco control and social determinants of health.

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