HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAM IN MADAGASCAR: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND YOUTH PARTICIPATION
University of Mons (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:This paper summarizes the results of a research conducted in Madagascar. This country is characterized by a very large and multidimensional poverty: 90% of the Malagasy people are concerned with bad economic conditions and more than 75% live in a situation of extreme poverty. This leads to the inability to meet the basic needs of the population with regard to food consumption, preventing people from being in good health (FAO, 2008). The Malagasy situation presents a generalized and recurring malnutrition but the economic decline of the agricultural sector (in which rice cultivation plays an important role) between 2005 and 2010 particularly affected the life in the rural areas.
Food health education is a significant opportunity to help fight against extreme poverty in improving food security and its positive consequences. The effectiveness of this kind of educational program is based on the concept of “Health locus of control" that refers to the degree to which individuals believe they have influenced over life events or health outcomes.
Our food health education program was implemented during a three-month stay in the Ambalakilonga community, in order to improve nutritional behavior of young people. Ambalakilonga is an associative life-project, in the province of Fianarantsoa, where various social stakeholders takes care of street children and young orphans. These teenagers are aged between 16 and 20 year-old and trained in various work-integration activities.
An applied research methodology was used, involving pragmatic and ontogenetic issues (stopping routines, solving problems, developing knowledge and skills). In order to achieve our research objectives and ensure the coherence of the project, we involved three types of actors at every step: the cooks, the educators and the young people themselves. Our protocol consisted of three successive phases: design, execution and evaluation of the program. Its implementation resulted in an intervention based on entertaining activities (creation of advertising slogans, posters, food quizzes…), the development of informative flyers for the local population, the deconstruction of misrepresentations on the basis of real-life situations, consensual researches for realistic solutions to shortcomings about hygiene… The evaluation of the program was done in two steps: an intrinsic evaluation that allowed direct adjustments at each stage of the process by continuous feedbacks and an extrinsic one that evaluated the effectiveness of the actions at the end of the process. We used several research tools to this end: a participant observation, comprehensive semi-structured interviews and various questionnaires.
Our young subjects positively and constructively experienced the program due to the new knowledge they acquired. We could also observe that food health education activities had a greater impact on the teenagers when they implied a deep work of deconstruction of their initial representations. New knowledge and behaviors could then be more durable. Our results highlight that simple, concrete and contextualized activities can induce positive change in the food behavior of our young subjects and empower them. Low-cost educational programs could therefore provide important health benefits. Our final hypothesis is that a large-scale implementation of such a program could effectively support public health policies for a better development of the entire population.
Keywords: Madagascar, Health Education, Youth Community, Poverty.