Emerging Themes

A few days ago I had one of my best interviews yet. The respondent had an amazing sense of what needs to be done to move Tanzania and the National Nutrition Strategy forward, but struggled to from his position. Already I’m seeing that many respondents think the nutrition landscape of Tanzania has changed in the last few years, since the introduction of the SUN movement. There’s a great positive feeling for the movement and national stakeholders are definitely getting more involved in the issue.

But Tanzania is decentralized, programs are provided to people at the district level and local government authorities (LGAs) have the most control over programming. The national government has the money, but the local government has the ultimate responsibility. The problem is they don’t seem to have been mobilized as national stakeholders have. Respondents keep saying that the districts don’t yet “own” the problem of malnutrition. Every time I hear this, or something like it, I can’t help but think about my exposure to community development theories both in the class Critical Engagement in Context (take it!) and as a new member of SOMOS.  I also feel like I’m missing a major part of the story because I won’t have the time to interview anyone working in LGAs in remote districts, where exposure to information about malnutrition is limited.

The interview and all the thoughts that stemmed from it have been scribbled down in my handy-dandy notebook and I hope to incorporate them into my final report. Because my time and manpower here has been limited, I want to do more background research on local and district programs in Tanzania when I return and flesh out my paper with some mention of community development theory and how that can be linked to national level policies like the National Nutrition Strategy.

As all these thoughts run through my head I try to keep them compartmentalized so that I won’t miss other important themes in the interviews that I don’t find as personally interesting. But the fact that I’m seeing themes at all is encouraging.

Mostly I just wish I had more time to talk to more people and gain an even deeper understanding of nutrition policy in Tanzania. But perhaps that will be the subject of future research.