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close this book Community Nutrition Action for Child Survival
close this folder Part II - Planning nutrition action projects
close this folder Unit 4: Planning nutrition action projects
View the document Session 1: Describing the problem
View the document Session 2: Writing project goals and objectives
View the document Session 3: Choosing project activities
View the document Session 4: Developing a project work plan
View the document Session 5: Planning how to evaluate
View the document Session 6: Preparing a budget

Session 3: Choosing project activities


In this session, trainees identify different activities that might be chosen to reach the same objectives. They then analyze the factors that affect the choice of project activities.

Time: 1/2 hour


- Handout - "Factors Affecting Choice of Activities"

- Trainer's Reference - "Choosing Project Activities"

- Flipchart and marking pens


1. Introduction: Once you have defined the problems your project will address and the results (goals and objectives) you hope to achieve, you must describe how you will achieve those results. In every case, managers must choose between different activities that could be carried out to achieve their objectives.

2. Identifying alternative approaches: Write the objective below on the flipchart:

To provide information about breastfeeding, improved weaning foods and family planning to at least 500 families in Kigondo District by the end of year two.

3. Ask trainees: "What are the different activities we might carry out to achieve this objective?"

Answers might include:

- Formal classes or presentations in the community

- Presentations and discussions with mothers who bring their children to a clinic

- Home visits by health workers

- Mass distribution of pamphlets or posters

- Radio programs

- Etc.

(Repeat this exercise using other objectives until trainers can list alternative approaches without difficulty.)

Emphasize that, in all cases, there are many different activities that could be chosen to solve specific problems. It is the job of the manager to decide which activity(ies) are most appropriate under his or her specific circumstances.

4. Factors that influence our choice of activities: Display a large chart like the one on the Handout "Factors Affecting Choice of Activities." Discuss each of the factors that influence our choice and design of project activities. Use the trainer's reference sheet to guide the discussion. Give examples to illustrate key points.

5. Community involvement: Emphasize the need to define the role that community leaders and project beneficiaries will play in project activities. In nutrition action projects, community members (especially those with malnourished children) should be involved in the planning and the evaluation of activities. If active community participation is part of a project's approach, the following questions should be answered.

- What level of involvement will community members have in planning and carrying out specific activities? That is, will they:

- provide services?

- assist with services?

- monitor services?

- use services?

- Who in the community will be involved?

- How will they be selected and motivated?

6. Describing activities: It is important to describe activities clearly and in measurable terms.

Ask trainers to compare the two statements below.

- Conduct monthly education sessions in the community.

- Conduct one education session every month in each of 30 villages. Education sessions will be carried out by Community Health Workers with the assistance of the Home Economics Extension Worker. This approach has been chosen because it will allow Community Health Workers and Extension Workers to use their limited time to reach many people in a community meeting.

Write on flipchart

A description of project activities tells us:


What will be done?

Who will do it?

How often?

Why was this approach selected?

7. Practice: Trainees list the activities that their projects will carry out. Ask them to describe one of these activities. When they finish, ask trainees to make sure that their descriptions answer the questions on the flipchart (6. above).



Available Resources
- people
- equipment
- time
- money

Nutrition Problems
- groups affected
- causes
- needs

Appropriate Technology
- proven techniques for solving problems
- availability of resources required


- felt needs
- expectations
- cultural practices
- interests
- other activities

- training
- experience/skills
- priorities
- access to resources

- organization priorities
- government priorities
- resources




Many factors affect our decisions about the activities we develop to address nutrition problems.

Causes of the Nutrition Problem: Activities must address the most important causes of malnutrition. They must also focus on and reach the groups affected by malnutrition. It does little good to begin nutrition education activities in an area of chronic food shortage. Likewise, promotion of home gardens in a food-abundant area may not make good sense.

Technologies for Intervention: These include availability of the techniques, equipment and supplies necessary to improve nutrition. In the case of an oral rehydration therapy program, it would not make sense to plan for distribution of ORS packets in an area where these are not easily available. In this area, an appropriate activity might be to teach families to use available ingredients to make ORS.

Community Characteristics: Community-felt needs, expectations and interests play a part in the design and choice of project activities. Cultural practices and restrictions also affect what services are provided and how they are delivered. For example, where women are not permitted to move freely outside of their own homes, providing education classes at a clinic would not be an appropriate approach to increasing their knowledge. Home visits by female workers might be a more appropriate way to provide information and training to them.

Available Resources: These include people, money and materials that can be applied to solving the nutrition problem as well as time, skills, interests and previous experience. Families, community leaders, managers, organizations and outside donors may all contribute resources.

Advisors/Managers: The managers' training, previous experience and interests will affect the design of project activities. Managers tend to suggest activities that they have conducted or seen conducted successfully. Training, visits to on-going projects and written materials about alternative approaches to solving nutrition problems will increase a manager's knowledge and ability to try new and different solutions.

Policy: All organizations and governments have explicit and implicit policies that can affect project activities. If the Ministry of Agriculture defines its services exclusively as food production and marketing, agriculture workers/home extensionists may not be encouraged nor have access to the resources necessary for conducting growth monitoring. A policy that restricts specific activities in family planning to persons with government certification or special status will also affect which family planning services can be provided and who can provide them.