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Japan's "KAIZEN" Helped Mountain Villages in Vietanam `Six-Year History of Child Nutriton Improvement Project` Final

A leader of mothers (center). She summarizes other mothersf opinions and serves as a center for sharing information in the region

'Cai Thien' Took Root

Through such efforts of CNIP, some mothers started taking leadership. They now act as a liaison among mothers who could not receive information about maternal and child health or did not understand the importance of these information, the community health center, and village health workers. FIDR supported this movement and created a system in which mothers were able to get the information they need.

In fact, CNIP was planned according to the life improvement approach implemented in Japanfs rural areas after the Pacific War. People devise in the daily life and teach each other. From there, a structure of practice was created. This is what FIDR has worked for the six years. It is the most important key for gaining a permanent result to incorporate small changes into the daily life.

In Vietnamese, there is a word gCai Thien.h This means Kaizen in Japanese and improvement in English. CNIP successfully improved the understanding of husbands and mothers-in-law on mothers, cooperation with neighbors, and nutritional condition of children. What was needed to improve the situation was not material supports nor superficial knowledge, but the awareness of people that they could change the living environment with their small efforts and the way of a family to improve their lifestyle permanently. As Cai Thien, Japanfs Kaizen has been steadily taken root and spread in Kon Tum province.


Japan's "KAIZEN" Helped Mountain Villages in Vietanam `Six-Year History of Child Nutriton Improvement Project` Part 2

Tasting time after the training. Childrenfs reaction please their parents.

Who Owns the Kitchen?

Kitchen is conventionally a mother-in-lawfs territory. It is difficult for a young bride to change the old-fashioned way continued by her mother-in-law.

Usually a big pot is used for complementary meals training provided in developing countries, but we asked each participant to bring ingredients and small pot in this project. Moreover, we provided the training not in the Vietnamese language, the official language of this country, but in the languages of each minority group and encouraged each participant originality and ingenuity. As a result, this cooking training became not just a place for gaining knowledge and learning recipes, but also an opportunity for gaining an experience that could immediately practice at home.

As this self-directed training continues, we could see changes on messy and unsanitary kitchens in this region. The kitchens got organized and the sanitary condition was greatly improved; moreover, people became to have more kitchenware, tableware, and seasonings. Mothers-in-law cannot feel bad about these changes. From the nutritional point of view, it was a favorable change that the number of dishes prepared for meals was increased. Originality and ingenuity that each participant tried at home are shared in the next training. The cooking training for complementary meals gradually became to a place for mothers to share information and exchange ideas. FIDR actively supported these changes.

Changes have been seen in the cluttered and unsanitary kitchen. We came to know that some fathers were interested in getting involved in raising children and invited these fathers to cooking training for complementary meals. Gradually, the number of fathers joining the training increased, and some fathers started helping their wives cook and take care of their children. There is a custom in this area that women are responsible for housework, parenting, and farming while men do not work so much. However, this project has contributed to change the awareness of housework by couples, in particular in younger generations.

A messy kitchen at the start of CNIP (photographed in 2012)
An organized kitchen (photographed in 2015)
Participants joined the complementary meals training with their own small pots.
Father cooking day was held, and participants competed their cooking skills.


Japan's "KAIZEN" Helped Mountain Villages in Vietanam `Six-Year History of Child Nutriton Improvement Project` Part 1

Located in central Vietnam, Kon Tum province is one of the areas having large family and suffering from the highest child malnutrition rate in the country. FIDRfs Child Nutrition Improvement Project (CNIP) implemented since 2012 is completing its six-year efforts. Generally, nutrition improvement projects teach basic knowledge on nutrition and demonstrate the preparation of nutritious complementary meals for over six month infants along with breast feeding. However, a distinctive feature of CNIP is its unconventional approaches to the challenge that Kon Tum province has been facing.

Many families in Kon Tum province have five to six children.

Sanitation Was the Key to Nutrition!

One day, when FIDRfs project team visited a family in the province, they encountered a shocking incident. There was a small pot on the ground of a dim kitchen carelessly. A dog came close to the pot, shifted the lid of the pot with its nose as if this kitchen were its own place, and started eating leftovers inside. After a while, the dog left, and a child about 2 years old came to the kitchen. What shocked us was that the child grabbed the leftover the dog had eaten and carried the food to his mouth.

gWe need to improve peoplefs health awareness. No matter how nutritious complementary meals mothers prepare, it would be meaningless if their children become ill.h This shocking incident realized us the reality and led us to focus on improving sanitation before nutritional condition.

In Kon Tum province, most households have no bathroom in the house. People usually go to a river or well to do laundry and bathing. Diarrhea from which dirt is a source of infection can inhibit infants from nutrition intake and in the worst scenario, it can cause them to die due to poor immunity

In 2013, FIDR implemented a pilot project and installed gMulti-Functional Toilet,h a bathroom for toilet, laundry, and bathing, to eleven households that volunteered for the pilot project. This bathroom was named gMotherfs Spaceh as a free space for mothers. The households became able to use the clean bathroom, do laundry more conveniently, and take a bath more easily. Above all else, they became to care about sanitary condition. The mothers reported happily that they could do laundry more than before and put cleaner clothes on their children. Visitors gradually came to see the volunteered households, and good reputations of Motherfs Space spread. As a result, the number of households which set up Motherfs Space steadily increased and exceeded 400 by 2018.

Changes of the living environment made changes of mothersf awareness. The mother realized that small efforts and ingenuity could change their living environment.

Motherfs Space that Improved Sanitary Condition

Motherfs Space. Each household prepare materials of the wall and roof and design the space depending on their needs.
Inside Motherfs Space. Water is led through a hose. People can do laundry and bathe indoors. Each household designs this space to improve usability.


Take a Look! This Is My Build-in-Kitchen!

We implemented Child Nutrition Improvement Project (CNIP) in Kon Tum Province, central Vietnam, since 2012 and provided cooking training, called gcooking demonstrationh, to prepare nutritious complementary meals for over six months infants along with breast feeding. Recently, not only mothers, who are targets of the training, but also fathers and grandmothers participate in the training, and we see more families making efforts on raising healthy children.

After the cooking training, FIDR staff monitor each participant regularly by visiting them to check if they actually prepare their own complementary meals at home. What recently impress the monitoring team is gBuild-in-Kitchensh organized by each mother.

gBuild-in-Kitchenh is the name of the Japanese kitchen style. Generally, it has the cooking cabinet, sink, and storage and is already familiar in Japan. Why did the kitchen appear in Kon Tum Province?

The staff visiting each household for monitoring explain the change of the mothers participating in the project, gThe ingredients and seasoning of meals in the past were very simple, and there were many households without a kitchen. Through CNIPfs activities, the mothers understood nutritious and familiar ingredients and seasonings, and more ingredients and seasonings became always on hand at their home. Moreover, one or two more dishes got to be prepared on the table than in the past.

Motherfs daily life is very busy with doing housework, raising children, and doing farming. Daily diet and kitchen where mothers prepare meals plays a crucial role for sustaining their familyfs health, especially their childrenfs health. It could be a natural change for the mothers to keep the kitchen clean, convenient and organized.h

Cooking training and other activities of CNIP give an opportunity for the mothers to exchange information. gThis is my build-in-kitchen. Please come visit and check it out!h

* (Photo) "I am always busy, but I became to think about familyfs health and diet more than before and organize my kitchen like this. Good idea, isnft it?"


Fathers Actively Participate in Child-raising

Aiming at enhancement of child health, our project focuses the mothers in the area to promote basic knowledge on nutrition, complementary diet meals and home garden. While the target region had been 26 villages last fiscal year, it doubled to 55 villages this year.

The other day our project staff visited one of the newly targeted villages and encountered a noteworthy feature. Obviously the persons to feed children were fathers rather than mothers.

Their village was forced to move to the current place because a dam was built in the old one where they used to live. However, their farming land is still in their previous village. Some residents have to take two hours to get there on foot. In this area, women are deemed to bear farming labor. Furthermore, they do domestic duties at home after coming back home. What do fathers do?

Traditionally, fathers stay at home longer than mothers in this area. Fathers spend their time at home unless they have to do heavy lifting or during busy farming season. Therefore, it is usual in their place that fathers take care of their kids while mothers are working outside the home. Unfair? Could be. But it all depends on how we look at it.

Lately in Japan, fathers who proactively play the role of child-raising, or iku-men, is commonly seen. It might give our project some idea for modifying the approach for involving more fathers in the activities of the project. Considering that we have already observed some fathers participate among mothers in the cooking demonstrations or meetings that FIDR conducts in villages, it would not be too unrealistic.
This kind of opportunity might stimulate them to change their conscious on labor of family.

* supplementary diet meals: softly cooked food in consideration of balanced nutrition for over six months infants along with breast feeding


Fathers Began Participating in the Project

Fathers Began Participating in the Project

Child Nutrition Improvement Project has been implemented in the mountainous areas of Kon Tum Province, approximately 250 km away from Da Nang City. During rainy season, the project sites often undergo down pour that makes the unpaved roads marshy. Even in such a condition, we do not halt the planned activities of the project.

Recently, there was a small but significant change in one of the activities, "cooking demonstration." Among the participants, a few fathers have come to be recognized.

Considering that most of the activities of the project used to target mothers, we now encourage other participants. Fathersf participation in the project has made us glad, therefore.

Mingled in mothers, the participating fathers might feel embarrassed and seldom talked during cooking training. But they seriously learned how to cook properly for their children handling cooking utensils awkwardly.

It is essential for childrenfs healthy growth to involve fathers in parental care. Hoping the number of participants for this project will increase, we continue to raise their awareness to the importance of cooperation in the family.


Village Health Facilitators Promote Motherfs Space

Village Health Facilitators Promote Motherfs Space

The Motherfs Space is a triple functional bathroom---water closet, bathing area and laundry room. We supported 37 households in four villages to establish it until the last season.

The residents are pleased with Motherfs Space as it enables them to bathe water and do laundry at home, let alone improves hygienic environment. The reputation of the Motherfs Space has expanded to neighboring villages and in this season 51 households in 22 villages asked FIDR to support to build ones.

Because of confusion in placing order of building materials, the completion of construction work tended to delay in some places. We concerned whether the project could proceed as scheduled. Thanks to the health facilitators who actively visited each village and encouraged the residents to work together, all the Motherfs Spaces have been completed as planned.

gI want to promote this project to improve health in the village,h proudly said one of the health facilitators.

Photo: The residents of the village collaborate in distributing the materials of Motherfs Space


Health Network Members Joined Study Tour

Health Network Members Joined Study Tour

The project has been implemented by Health Network Members, locally recruited volunteers to advise residents on health and nutrition through lectures and cooking demonstrations. In this project FIDR emphasizes spreading the knowledge on nutrition, child-raising and hygiene. The Network Members play a key role in the success of this project because they contact directly the residents of the target areas.

The Network Members consist of mothers and local health officers in each village. Since the establishment of the team, they have improved the nutrition and health in the villages through monthly cooking demonstrations and lectures. At first, the members were not confident in giving lectures and demonstrations. However, as they continued to attend the training for the members organized by FIDR, they gradually increased their confidence in their work and gained trust from the mothers they communicate with.

Through the support of the FIDR, the Network Members were able to visit similar projects in other regions to learn ideas for lectures and demonstration sessions by other organizations. The attended members based on their findings discussed differences, , advantages, and difficulties in terms of the work. As a result, the Network Members were able to develop a wider perspective on how to implement practical training and give more effective lectures.

FIDR hopes that the Network Members will continue their vigorous activities and work for their community.


Mothers moving on to sanitary improvement

Mothers moving on to sanitary improvement

Mothers are learning about cooking to improve their childrenes nutritional status at monthly cooking class. Now, they made a new annual plan with two activities to make further progress on their childrenfs lives..

One is to develop gardens growing high nutrient vegetables around homes. The other is to build their own toilets at homes like the communal toilets in their villages. Mothers who participated in a workshop learned some models and examples and discussed what they could do and what type was family friendly, etc. and made decision one by one.

They decided the size of toilets, utilized available materials such as bamboos or sacks containing fertilizers for wall s, and progressed works at their paces. They like to complete the works before July, start of rainy season. Those mothers discuss things with earnest eyes to improve their and their childrenfs lives