Nutrition education intervention promoting dried Moringa oleifera Leaf products to improve diets of rural households
Mukama, Innocent H.T.
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Moringa has been predominantly used as medicine but less utilized as food in Uganda yet it is one of the plant species nutritionally rich in protein and micronutrients which are usually deficient in most of the rural household diets. The meals of the rural poor are predominated by starch and legume foods with less or no animal based foods. Micronutrient and protein deficiencies are some of the most prevalent health problems in Uganda. Moringa provides a cheap source of these nutrients. The overall objective of this study was to promote utilisation of dried Moringa leaf products at household level by educating women to process and regularly incorporate dried Moringa leaf products in household diets in Mukono district. Nutrition education intervention was conducted for four consecutive weeks by trained facilitators. A total of 168 rural women from the four different sites namely Bukasa/Kisoga, Kijjo/Kitto, Nakiwate/Nenyodde and Wanjeyo/Kamira were empowered with skills to process and incorporate dried Moringa leaf products in commonly consumed household foods. The participants were taught about the importance of nutrients at different life stages, processing of dried Moringa leaf products and incorporation in common household foods. Participants’ knowledge, attitudes and utilisation of dried Moringa leaf products were assessed at both baseline and end time using a structured questionnaire. Results showed that there was a significant increment in the end time mean scores of knowledge (3.40±3.157 vs. 9.22±1.824, p>0.001), attitudes (1.12±0.906 vs. 3.10±0.825, P>0.001) and practices (0.50±1.095 vs. 4.25±1.349, P>0.001) for the whole intervention group. However, there was no significant difference in end time scores across the four sites. In conclusion, the study showed that a Nutrition Education intervention carried out using the culturally accepted practices can improve nutrition knowledge, attitudes and utilisation of dried Moringa leaf products at household level. This intervention, however, needs also to be tried out in a larger population to establish whether it produces similar results. There is also need to determine the impact of Moringa consumption on the nutritional status of different household members.