The Banana Project - Progress report
University of Agder (UiA), in developing its partnership with Tanga International Competence Centre (TICC), HAMA, and the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Tanga, is initiating research and evaluation of, among others, the HAMA projects.
As part of this, UiA created a research group into which I was invited. On a study trip to Tanzania in March 2017, an evaluation of the Banana project was planned. The project aims to help children through a simple class-room based intervention where they provide one banana daily to each of the 890 children in a pre- and primary school in Tanzania. The aim of the master thesis, is to study parents’ and teachers’ experience with pre-school children participating in the project.
Tanzania Human Development Report 2014 states that income, consumption and development indicators show that the level of poverty is high in Tanzania, and that almost 50% of the population is under the age of 15. The UN emphasises measures for health-promotion and education for ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions.
TICC and HAMA have worked with different health-promotion and education programs for many years, however, no evaluation or research have been done. The intended value of this master thesis is therefore to develop new knowledge in this field, and further to evaluate and to highlight the experiences of the banana project as part of the work of HAMA.
Data collection took place in October 2017 in Tanzania, where I conducted altogether 16 in-depth interviews; fourteen interviews with parents/ caregivers and two interviews with pre-school teachers. In addition, conversations with the headteacher of the pre- and primary school and two co-ordinators of the project were held individually as a supplement for a broader understanding. Participants were asked about their experience in relation to nutrition and health of the children participating in the banana project. The interview guides used were in both Kiswahili and English, and approved by NIMR in Tanzania. Furthermore, an interpreter was used in all interviews. As a supplement, observations of children from the pre-school classroom were conducted over a period of 10 days. The master thesis is expected to be ready by June 2018.
Hopefully, this evaluation of the banana project may help as a measure towards further development of the project in health-promotion and education, and thereby also benefit the community in general. The personal reflections of the participants on the bananas’ impact on children’s health, may lead to a deeper understanding. Furthermore, we want to publish the results, and the evaluation of the banana-project may potentially strengthen the survival of the project itself, as well as making the ideas expand to other comparable schools. The work done with, and the experience from, this master may also help UiA to further develop the co-operation with TICC, HAMA and NIMR, and encourage more research in Tanzania.
I would like to thank UiA for the invitation to participate, for the supportive research group and for the funding that has made this process possible.