The effect of participation in a pro-poor dairy development project on milk consumption among reproductive age women in rural Tanzania

Animal milk is an important contributor to women’s dietary diversity, especially among pastoral communities where access to diverse diets is limited. While there have been numerous large-scale milk development projects in East Africa, few examples of propoor milk collective action projects exist that focus on expanding milk production and consumption by women. This study reports cross-sectional findings on the association between participation in a pro-poor dairy development project and women’s milk consumption in rural Tanzania. Socio-demographic and health-related characteristics associated with milk consumption were assessed as well. The study utilized data from a sample of 272 women who participated in two surveys conducted in the Morogoro and Tanga regions of Tanzania in 2015. Chi-square and Cochran–Mantel–Haenszel analyses identified factors associated with whether milk was consumed in the previous 24-hour period. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) identified factors associated with frequency of milk consumption. Multivariable logistic regression was applied to estimate associations between program participation, socio-demographic, health characteristics, milk consumption behavior. Seventy-six percent of women reported drinking milk in the previous 24-hour period. The mean frequency of milk intake among the control group was 1.61 times 2.15 times among the intervention group. The adjusted odds of consuming any milk in the previous 24 hours were 16.1 (95% CI 1.72-150.44) times greater for Maasai than other tribes. Among Maasai, the adjusted odds of consuming milk 3-4 times per day compared to 1-2 times per day were 9.96 (95% CI 1.03 - 96.09) times greater for those in the dairy development group compared to the control. Among non-Maasai, the adjusted odds of consuming any milk in the prior 24 hours was 3.45 (95% CI 1.07- 11.05) times greater for those in the dairy development group compared to the control. Milk consumption was greatest among Maasai and communities with propoor dairy development programs. Findings suggest that participation in a Pro-poor agricultural intervention to improve milk production may improve women’s milk consumption and ultimately help to address rural poverty and improve household nutrition.