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Deeply Talks: How Can Technology Reduce Stunting?

In our latest episode of Deeply Talks, we explored how a project in Timor Leste is using technology to reduce stunting. David Roach, the cofounder of Catalpa International, spoke to our editors about the project and the lessons he has learned.

Written by Amruta Byatnal Published on Read time Approx. 1 minutes
Household interaction 4 of 5
With the use of collaborative technology, community workers can show videos of healthy behavior to people in Holarua, Timor Leste.Provided by Catalpa International

Our second episode of Deeply Talks starts with an unusual problem: How can you limit the number of times someone gets asked what kind of toilet they have? It’s actually a common question for people living in developing settings, where experts working on nutrition and sanitation projects frequently visit households to collect information.

Instead of wasting people’s time gathering the same data over and over again, David Roach, the cofounder and director at Catalpa International, wanted to develop a system to record information and share it with all of the relevant stakeholders. That would both encourage collaboration and make it easier to actually implement projects.

“As development practitioners, it is imperative to be able to work with different organizations,” he said. With the Hamutuk project in Timor Leste, “We want to make collaboration a default behavior.”

Operating in Holarua village, in Timor Leste, where nearly half of all children under five are affected by stunting, the project focuses on building a profile of each household and delivering it to 20 different partner organizations through the scanning of a QR code. In addition to saving everyone’s time, the agencies receive guidelines on what kind of specific behaviors to encourage for each family to improve nutrition and, ultimately, reduce stunting.

Because the profile develops over time, it can contribute to what Roach called a continuous learning model for each family and for the people working with them. It “moves away from static, survey-based interactions with households, to creating more dynamic profiles,” he said. That means less time asking about toilets and more time implementing strategies to reduce stunting.

Listen to Roach speak with editors Amruta Byatnal and Andrew Green here:

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