The story of Majoni

Enhancing the health & well-being of local communities.

The story of Majoni

Majoni a young girl from the tea worker community in Assam, India is one of the many participants of the ‘Seeds of Prosperity’ Programme – a collaboration between Unilever, Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and the Dutch Government. GAIN is the knowledge partner and Solidaridad is the implementing partner for the programme in India.

Background - Seeds of Prosperity

Tea farmers and workers have a monotonous diet. Their diets lack in essential nutrients such as iron and zinc, which are essential for good health. A diverse diet, one incorporating many food groups, can be the difference between poor and good health.

The ‘Seeds of Prosperity’ programme, a behaviour change approach developed with GAIN, Wageningen University and Unilever behaviour change experts is the first stepping stone for businesses to invest in nutrition in their supply chains. It aims to educate and promote behaviour change among tea supply chain households in the two areas of nutrition and hygiene, specifically dietary diversity and handwashing.

Empowering people to be messengers of change

The ‘Seeds of Prosperity’ programme trains and empowers people like Majoni to educate their local communities on the importance of eating diverse food groups, good nutrition and hygiene.

Majoni says, “We do not face any problem with the women beneficiaries. They are attentive and take active part in discussions during trainings. But it is a different story with men. The challenge with male attendees is that it is difficult for them to accept a woman telling them about good nutrition and hygiene.”

While most stories are about the everyday challenges the trainers face on the project, Majoni's remark stood out. And it is not only because she spoke on gender bias, it is because a few months back no one would have imagined Majoni speaking at a public forum. The shy and often quiet Majoni is today one of the boldest speakers in the group. The programme has helped her challenge the traditionally hierarchical and patriarchal tea-estate culture.

This is yet another example of the many programmes that our Company carries out along with partners to not only uphold healthy and hygienic living but also empower those who need it the most.

Programme Design and Implementation Model

The Key components of the ‘Seeds of Prosperity’ program include training on nutrition and hygiene, and promotion of kitchen gardens through distribution of seeds. It is based on four levers of change: awareness, commitment, reinforcement and rewards, and are delivered through a very interactive methodology using behaviour change communication materials for the beneficiaries. The programme is stretched over a nine-week period with weekly contact sessions of the tea worker/farmer groups for at least one hour. The first five weeks are dedicated to awareness generation on nutrition and rest of the four weeks entails discussions on clean hygiene habits.

As part of the programme, individuals residing locally (tea farmers/worker communities) are hired as master trainers. This is designed to ensure that local resources capacities are built and knowledge on nutrition is provided to the people who even after the programme is completed can anchor the requirements of the communities.

First, the master trainers are trained on why a diverse diet and good hygiene matters, what it looks like, and how they can improve their diets and hand washing practices. These master trainers then go on to teach groups in their community. The programme is based on the ratio of 1 master trainer for 100 beneficiaries. The master trainers also follow up with few beneficiaries with home visits.

Nutrition for smallholder farmers

The first ‘Seeds of Prosperity’ programme was implemented in India with an aim of benefitting more than 40,000 farming families (2,00,000 people) in Unilever’s business supply chain.

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