Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich 

Using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to understand the relationships between labour-saving agricultural innovations, women’s time use and maternal and child nutrition outcomes


PI: Kate Wellard
Partners: Elaine Ferguson (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), Lora Forsythe (Natural Resources Institute), Jan Priebe (Natural Resources Institute), Joweria Nambooze (Africa Innovations Institute), Francis Alacho (Africa Innovations Institute)
Start date: 5 December 2016
Duration: 24 months
Value: £249,968
Countries of research: Uganda, UK

Project summary

This project aims to assess the feasibility and concurrent criterion validity of tools that will improve the accuracy of lifestyle data collection, when evaluating the positive and negative impacts of agri-nutrition interventions on women’s time use and maternal and infant dietary practices. Two inter-disciplinary digital tools, which have been successfully applied in related fields in high income countries, will be trialled for use in a low income country in an agri-nutrition context to: (1) expand the types and increase accuracy of data being collected on women’s time use and maternal and infant dietary practices and (2) increase the scalability of data collection by facilitating self-reporting instead of direct observations or interviewer administered questionnaires.

In this validation study, maternal time use and maternal / infant dietary practices will be measured using one of two innovative digital tools; which are: (1) Life-logging GPS-linked wearable cameras that will capture in-situ behaviours as they occur in context (providing images captured at regular intervals throughout the day). (2) A computerised interactive voice response diary that will enable respondents to provide short but frequent descriptions of their activities and food consumption, several times throughout day in response to automated calls on their mobile phone.

Participants will be rural Ugandan mother-infant dyads (n=252), who will be randomly sampled via multi-stage sampling in selected ethnically and geographically diverse regions of Uganda; stratified by innovative tool. Inclusion criteria will include a mother with a 6-11-month old infant who is participating in an agriculture-nutrition project. Maternal time use patterns and maternal and child dietary practices will be assessed over a 4-day period by a combination of direct 15-hour observation (gold standard), one of the two innovative tools and 24-hour dietary and maternal time use recalls (traditional tools). Six patterns of data collection will be used to account for biases related to chronology of data collection, 15-hour observation and day-of-the week effect on agreement. Focus group discussions will be held to discuss participant’s experiences with each of the tools. Questionnaire and anthropometric data will also be collected for descriptive purposes.

Inter-method agreement in time use (hours in agriculture / care-giving activities) and maternal / infant dietary diversity will be evaluated via Bland-Altman plots and regression. For categories of foods and maternal activities, percentages of matches, intrusions and omissions will be estimated.