Samaki Salama Team’s Executive Summary
The Samaki Salama Activity aimed to promote sustainable fisheries practices and improve the nutritional status of young children. The intervention study was conducted in Kilifi county among small-scale fisher households with children less than five years of age. The objective was to test the effectiveness of a bundled intervention to address human health and malnutrition in small-scale fisher households and its interaction with nutrition security and fisheries sustainability.
The study was a longitudinal, cluster design trial with three groups: 1) control, 2) social marketing for nutrition education and 3) social marketing for nutrition education and modified fishing traps for fisheries health. Data was collected from households in all three groups at two points, which were baseline (before the implementation of the intervention) and endline (at the close of the one-year intervention period). Fishers were interviewed on their fishing practices, fish catch, revenue and total fish catch they took home, while caregivers were interviewed concerning feeding and care of the young children aged 6-59 months, and child growth was measured.
Fishers using gated (experimental) traps caught larger fish that were worth more money than those using nongated (control) traps, and the most commonly caught species were rabbitfishes and parrotfishes. The fishers that participated in the study had yields that were 10% greater (kilograms) than those fishers in the control group using nongated traps, and the catches were worth 13% more in price. Two fish species were particularly impacted by the gated traps: blackspotted sweetlips (Plectorhinchus gaterinus) and blackspot emperor (Lethrinus harak). These fish are often captured as juveniles in the nongated traps, but because of the modified trap design, the length of fish were greater, suggesting more adult fish were caught instead. Fishers took fish home with them to feed their family more than half of the time; however, fishers who received gated traps and social marketing took home significantly more fish (12% of catch) than those who did not (7% of catch).
Stunted growth was highly prevalent in this sample affecting 20% of children at baseline and increasing to 27.9% by endline. Acute diarrhea also was extremely high in the three study groups at baseline, 24% compared to the national average of 14% in Kenya. The Samaki Salama intervention showed positive findings across multiple nutrition and health outcomes. Data show that the Samaki Salama intervention significantly increased child growth in height, significantly increased child fish consumption and improved child dietary diversity score (number of food groups consumed).
The Samaki Salama Activity supplied 100 fishers with 400 modified basket traps. This enabled the fishers to have the same or larger catch compared with the old traps, and the fish were worth more money because of their increased size. Fishers also caught fewer juvenile fish with the modified basket traps, thus, decreasing their impact on fish stocks. Fishers, also targeted with social marketing elements of the intervention, were willing to use the modified traps to protect the marine ecosystem and, as well, take home more of the catch for child nutrition. In the intervention group that combined social marketing with modified traps, children consumed more fish and a greater variety of foods, likely leading to improved health outcomes in the long-term.
Changes in the caregiver health behaviors were evident in the two groups receiving social marketing messaging from home visits, cooking demonstrations, fisher workshops and community health care workers. These behaviors were linked to improved dietary, health and hygiene practices, ultimately leading to reduced illness in the young children.
Conclusions and recommendations
- The Samaki Salama Activity recommends that social marketing with nutrition-based education is needed to engage individual caregivers to persuade and show them how to make positive behavior changes.
- There is a need to support small-scale fishers with appropriate fishing gear that can preserve the ecosystem, such as the gated traps, and incorporate the same gear in national fisheries regulation requirements. Fishers should also be trained on how to use such gear and how to sustain the practices.
- Male caregivers/fathers should be involved in child feeding and care, as this increases the likelihood that the nutritional status of children will be improved and the behavior change sustained in the household.
- More efforts are needed to enhance nutrition knowledge about the benefits of fish among fishing households to increase their intake and consequently improve the nutritional status and health of young children.
- Collaborations between community partners, such as community health volunteers and representatives from Beach Management Units, should be strengthened for intervention sustainability and adoption of appropriate practices.