The Father Factor: How Community Video Encourages Male Involvement for Better Nutrition and Hygiene Behaviors in Niger

“Produced locally, the videos feature community members performing as actors and focus on many key themes, such as dietary diversity, handwashing, exclusive breastfeeding, and complementary feeding practices. Field mediators (or volunteers) share the videos with community groups, lead interactive discussions following the videos, and conduct home visits to address any questions raised by participants. During the home visits, mediators also ensure that group members understand the practice correctly and promote the practice to others in their family or community. Husbands in the community are exposed to video messages when they attend the video disseminations, during home visits, or when they learn about the health messages from their wives.”

This study, begun in August of 2016, set out to: understand the influence of community videos on couples dialogue about MIYCN and resulting husband supportive behaviours; explore how to use the community video approach to encourage spousal communication and husband support; and assess perception changes among community members and influencers (like mothers-in-law) on spousal communication and husband support. Five villages studies were conducted using in-depth one-on-one interviews with husbands and their wives and in-depth interviews with mothers-in-law and focus group discussions (FGD). A second round of data collection occurred in January of 2017, seeking greater depth and saturation of the themes.

Interviewers were trained to administer a guided interview in Hausa, using an audio recording device; they then translated and transcribed interviews. Inductive and conceptual codes were developed and applied and information categorized and analyzed.

A father and child play in the village of Dan Turke, where the SPRING team was filming a video on how men can support handwashing in the household. Credit: Marjolein Moreaux, SPRING.

The results include the following:

  1. Understanding community videos influence –
    1. Husbands received information from wives who participated in women’s groups, from viewing videos, from discussion with neighbors, or from peer educator home visits. They described learning about food and feeding in the first 1,000 days of an infant’s life.
    2. Conversations between husbands and wives occurred early or late in the day, frequently initiated by husbands who viewed the video, and included topics of what children ate, how to finance groceries, using complementary or exclusive breastfeeding, and how to keep their living space clean.
    3. Couples reported: improved levels of conversation; sometimes, purchases by men of groceries, soap, or medicine.
  2.  How the videos changed male involvement –
    1. Husbands affirmed that seeing the videos changed behaviors.
    2. Mothers-in-law recommended that the videos be shown to men. Others confirmed that all community members should see them.
    3. Seeing benefits at home was a recognized factor in behavior change.
    4. Open dialogue between couples was the third factor.
  3. How community members perceived changes –
    1. Mothers-in-law noted more couples communication and shared responsibility.
    2. Community members confirmed more couples’ mutual participation in the health and nutrition of children.

The study concludes that the use of community videos “encourages spousal communication to promote MIYCN behaviors for most couples.” Showing supportive fathers and inter-couple communication can stimulate adoption of behaviors through imitation. Men can influence behavior change in family adoption of positive health and nutrition, as well as offer emotional, physical, and financial support.

Click here to learn more about ‘the father factor’.

This blog was cross-posted from The Communication Initiative Network

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