There are many efforts of international bodies on food security and global warming, but not much attention is paid to the quality of water and food consummation at the household level. “It was important for me to conduct research in these subject areas because children and pregnant women are most vulnerable to the effects”, Janice says. “Micronutrient deficiency leads to permanent and irreversible damage that is seen only at a later stage in a person’s life. So it is important to sensitise people about it early in life.”

 

Water samplingSurface water as a supplement

“Many human activities result in pollution and – in some cases – drying of surface water bodies. However, surface water bodies recharge groundwater. My research assessed the micronutrient concentration in surface water bodies as a supplement to the micronutrients in food.”

 

The effect of gender roles

“There are diverse people involved in the nutrition of the family. I observed – for instance – that women mostly did the planning and preparation of food in the household but men mostly pay for the costs involved. It also emerged that both men and women in Ghana do not plan their meals, which means that the meals do not always contain the necessary nutrients.”

“This has direct or indirect effects on the quality of food and water consumed by the family. To be able to have quality food and water, it is necessary to involve these stakeholders (women and men who play different roles in the family) in formulating policies on nutrition. Therefore, it was important to include gender to capture the roles of women, men and even children in the nutrition of the household.”

 

Analysis of water samplesMove the children

“I carefully planned my work and tried to ensure very effective time management. My project assistants, supervisors and family were very supportive. My husband had to perform some of the family duties to enable me to work in the laboratory and teach at CAGRIC college. We moved the children to stay with my husband at Cape Coast (in the South of Ghana, eds.) so that there would always be a parent with them. That allowed me to move freely to carry out my experiments on the field and laboratories as well as teaching at the college in Mampong (in the centre of Ghana, eds.) with minimal distraction. This was not very easy and simple, but I managed.”

 

Janice Dwomoh Abraham The effects of my contribution

“I hope to submit the manuscripts to selected journals before the end of the year. If possible, I will organise workshops and training sessions for communities to share the findings of the research with them so that they can protect surface water bodies in their areas. My improved teaching and research skills will help the university to achieve its aim of excellence in educating students. I believe that better-trained people will support the economic growth and development of Ghana. Finally, I believe that I am a role model for the many young women and men who are motivated by my achievements.”

 

Janice followed her PhD with financial help from the Dutch organisation for the internationalisation of education, Nuffic, which helped her to conduct the laboratory and field experiments, and the field survey. She was granted a PhD bursary via the NUFFIC project “Strengthening Environmental Health and Sanitation Education at UEW to sustain WASH in the School Health Education Programme (SHEP) of the Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Education” (NUFFIC, NICHE 195 – 205), implemented by the consortium of MDF Training & Consultancy, the Netherlands office (lead),  Mott MacDonald and MDF Training & Consultancy, Ghana office. Janice works at CAGRIC (College of Agriculture Education in Mampong-Ashanti, Ghana) as a lecturer. Get in touch Marie-José Niesten, the project leader of the consortium for more information.