Sonjara: Nutrition for Subsistence Farmers
Challenge Question: 1. For subsistence farmers, what's the level of productivity that they need to sufficiently feed their family while meeting nutritional requirements?
Much of the world still accesses its calories from subsistence farming. This is especially true for women in rural areas, who continue to provide the majority of the calories and nutrition through food they grown within the household. Malnutrition due to a lack of micro-nutrients is a critical health issue in children and pregnant women, who need not just calories but key micro-nutrients, such as Vitamin A, Iron, Iodine, and Zinc among others, to grow up healthy and at their full potential. While supplementation programs help alleviate micro-nutrient malnutrition, improved household food sources of these micro-nutrients are more sustainable and cost less. In addition, a lack of nutrition rich foods in daily diets can be an early indicators of food security issues, as families often focus their household budgets on cheaper, low nutrition foodstuffs in times of crisis.
Mothers need information to alert them to the potential for malnutrition and help them to decide what sorts of foods to plant, purchase, and prepare for their families. Regional and national administrators and community partners need data on areas of micro-nutrient deficiency so they can prepare education and supplementation programs, as needed, especially in times of crisis.
Food frequency questionnaires are a standard method of capturing potential for malnutrition, especially around micro-nutrients. Making the questionnaires into a mobile ap which can be administered by a community health worker or even by the mother's themselves can give them instant data on their relative risk for malnutrition for their families.
The web-based ap can offer locally relevant information on appropriate foods, local resources for seeds or where to purchase for the CHW to share with the mother. The ap can open the door for a conversation with a community health worker on the importance of good nutrition. The ap can also be stored on a smart phone or tablet for low connectivity areas, and reintegrated when the CHW returns to a central location.
The data captured is aggregated at a community and national level to give administrators insights into areas of deficiency. It also can be layered with other maps of food scarcity in general, and other patterns to ensure the guidance given locally is updated in real time.
We are basing the food frequency questionaire on two resources developed by Helen Keller International, a USAID funded NGO who offers nutrition based child survival programs in developing countries. We are also including the USAID funded FANTA food frequency guide and information from the Measure Demographic Household Survey datasets as reference as well.
For the software architecture, we will be using Fakoli (www.fakoli.org), our open source rapid application framework, to build the proof of concept site for the Hack4Hunger. The survey questionnaires will be flexible to allow administrators to create new, copy, and translate without the need to code. We will build one sample survey, with a mobile ap view, and a web view with some sample data. We will integrate open data such as from other USAID funded projects such as FEWSNET and the Measure DHS where possible to overlay with the household survey data to give policy makers a better view of the entire food security issue, down to the household level.
Our plan is to donate the proof of concept to a USAID funded NGO partner such as HKI, so that they may use it for data collection and monitoring if they so choose.
How you can help
We are looking for partners who are familiar with real world on the ground household survey collection in West Africa (such as Senegal), as well as academics and policy makers who need the data for planning and projection purposes.
Open Source data Sources
1. Google earth/maps
Sonjara is a woman owned IT firm which focuses on ICTs for Development. Supporting USAID since 2003, Sonjara has build and supported a variety of technology evaluations and tools to address international development problems. Our clients are passionate professionals with a vision; we provide the technology to make it happen.
Our Team consists of:
Siobhan Green, CEO and Lead Technology Analyst
Andrew Green, CISSP, CTO
Janice Gallant, Senior Developer
Margie Joyce, Senior Technology and Learning Specialist