Valid’s Social Development (SD) team undertake a variety of tasks — from short-term assignments focused on the immediate operational needs of clients (e.g. designing and delivering a mobilisation strategy) to longer-term research into social and cultural dimensions of health and nutrition programming. Our work is characterised by practical, performance-enhancing recommendations to clients using a mixed-methods approach. Typically, individual specialists make field trips to analyse and address problems of participation, compliance, or access involving a socio-cultural dimension. Our staff are conversant in all aspects of applied social research, including study design, implementation, and ethnographic data analysis. Crucially, they also bring with them the experience to transform insights into programme improvements.
1. Valid’s work with CMAM implementers (typically NGOs or Ministries of Health introducing treatment for SAM to a District or Region for the first time) allowed the SD team to evolve tools and procedures that maximize programme impact by systematically addressing barriers to access and use. These are documented in instructional materials developed by Valid to expand capacity for CMAM training and implementation and also in materials developed by partners to record best practice in social and community outreach for CMAM
2. Advice to clients, while not always placed in the public domain, takes the form of succinct, practical, action-oriented reports designed to address specific operational problems.
3. More recently a collaboration with the Geneva-based Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has seen Valid providing specialist personnel to assist with design, implementation, and analysis of Focused Ethnographic Studies (FES). The FES methodology — developed initially for investigation into the cognitive and social elements of health-seeking around acute respiratory infections — is now being applied to complementary feeding. Valid SD staff are currently contributing critical skills to research teams designing and evaluating Home Fortification interventions in Ethiopia and Bangladesh respectively. This contribution includes systematic data collection mixing qualitative and quantitative techniques, coding and analysis of ethnographic interviews, and multidimensional scaling – all of which assist the client to understand the user-perspective on nutrition interventions planned or already underway.
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