FishFirst! Zambia Fieldwork

Published by Emile Creel on

FishFirst! Zambia Fieldwork


Participants of the FishFirst! Zambia fieldworkSSRC Research Professor, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale, conducted FishFirst! Zambia Phase II fieldwork and data collection at Lake Kariba, Zambia, with WorldFish colleagues and graduate and undergraduate students from Mississippi State University (MSU), the University of Zambia, and Levy Mwanawasa Medical University in June. FishFirst! Zambia is led by Dr. Ragsdale (Lead PI), Dr. Netsayi Mudege (Zambia PI) an Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi (Lead Co-PI; SSRC Assistant Research Professor) and our research is made possible by the generous support of the American people provided by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish (M. Lawrence, PI) through USAID. The Fish Innovation Lab is hosted at Mississippi State University by the Global Center for Aquatic Health and Food Security.   

The SSRC-based fieldwork team, which included Dr. Ragsdale, Robert Kolbila, MA (SSRC Graduate Research Assistant) and Ania Issac (SSRC Undergraduate Intern), departed the U.S. on June 12 and returned on June 26. They flew into Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka via Johannesburg, South Africa, where they joined WorldFish colleagues Dr. Mudege, Lizzy Muzungaire, MS (Project Manager), Keagan Kakwasha (Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist), Agness Chileya (Communication Specialist) and Patricia Chanda (WF Associate). The fieldwork team also included Priscilla Funduluka, MS (Levy Mwanawasa Medical University) and her graduate assistants, Toose Muzungaile (University of Zambia) and Limson Chirwa (Zambia Bureau of Standards).Fieldwork participant leads demonstration

Our fieldwork was conducted in Siavonga District at Lake Kariba, which is the world’s largest artificial lake and is set into the mountains that border Zambia and Zimbabwe. Lake Kariba encompasses 2,150 square miles and is the leading source of Limnothrissa miodon – a tiny sardine-like fish locally known as Kapenta – for Zambia and adjacent countries. Siavonga a mountainous community approximately 4.5-hours by vehicle from Lusaka. Our participants were drawn from Gwembe and Sinazongwe Districts as well as from Siavonga.

Our primary goals were to: 1) develop Complementary Food for Africa+Dried Fish Powder (ComFA+) – a multiple micronutrient powder made from locally sourced dried fish powder and other locally sources powders; 2) develop five ComFA+-fortified traditional dishes and conduct a pilot taste-test; 3) conduct Sensory Trial I to evaluate whether mothers (ages 18-49 years) found four ComFA+-fortified traditional dishes tasty and acceptable (including Nshima (the national dish of Zambia), Kapenta Chutney, Chibwabwa Fisashi (a savory dish of dried dark green leafy vegetables), and Bean-Vegetable Soup); 4) conduct Sensory Trial II to evaluate whether mothers found that the ComFA+-fortified weaning food, Nshima thinned to a porridge (which is the most common infant weaning food across Zambia) was tasty and acceptable to their 6-23 month-olds); and  5) provide three separate nutrition trainings/cooking demonstrations on how to make ComFA+-fortified traditional dishes.

Upon returning to Lusaka, we met at the offices of the American Embassy with USAID’s Dr. David Howlett (Agriculture Development Officer), Harry Ngoma (Food Security Specialist), and Mlotha Damaseke (Senior Agriculture and Trade Specialist) and provided a briefing on the FishFirst! Zambia project’s goals and the fieldwork activities just conducted at Siavonga.

We brought bibs from the U.S., as well as small washcloths, small serving dishes, and colorful spoons for infants and young children. These items were a huge hit with their mothers and helped to create a good atmosphere for conducting Sensory Trials I-II.

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