About Our Team

The Community Engaged Nutrition Intervention Research (CENTIR) Group is the research group of Dr. Rebecca Stoltzfus and Dr. Kate Dickin at Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences. CENTIR conducts collaborative research and training activities concerning human nutrition problems of women and children in contexts of poverty, ethnic minorities, and disadvantaged populations both in the United States and internationally. We are a diverse group of scholars with backgrounds ranging from international nutrition to adult education and psychology to veterinary medicine. Through this site and this blog, we aim to share and support discussions that arise from our community-engaged work on maternal and child health.

Left to right: Gina Chapleau, Dr. Rukundo Kambarami Benedict, Dr. Rebecca Stoltzfus, Dr. Kate Dickin, Dr. Stephanie Martin, Hope Craig, and Ibukun Owoputi (other members not pictured)

Community-based stakeholder mapping: an approach to strengthen multisectoral nutrition interventions

stakeholder-mapping-posterUndergraduate researchers working on the Building Strong Nutrition Systems Project gathered to present a poster at the Global Health Learning Symposium on October 16, 2016. Students presented their preliminary findings to the Cornell community on mentoring District Nutrition Officers to effectively engage community-based, cross disciplinary stakeholders in ways which will strengthen multisectoral strategies to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in two model districts in Tanzania. Research assistants include Jared Alpern, Luiza Chepkemoi, and Hasna Zainul.

Laura Smith’s new article on predictor’s of aflatoxin risk

UntitledThe article titled “Examining environmental drivers of spatial variability in aflatoxin accumulation in Kenya maize: Potential utility in risk prediction models” explores low cost strategies to predict aflatoxin contamination in maize. Aflatoxins have been associated with stunted growth and delayed development in children and more research is needed to determine how to prevent exposure.



For the full article,  please visit: http://ajfand.net/Volume16/No3/ILRI_paper_9.pdf

Use of Smallholder Poultry Interventions to Promote Food Security

Congratulations to Sarah Dumas whose manuscript “Sustainable smallholder poultry interventions to promote food security and social, agricultural, and ecological resilience in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia” was published in the Food Security journal in June 2016. Her research highlights two small poultry interventions implemented by Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) and demonstrates that addressing health and management challenges within an existing small scale poultry system can not only improve the productivity and profitability for smallholder farmers but the general food security and health for local communities.

Click here for abstract

Factors Associated With Community Health Worker Performance Differ by Task in a Multi-Tasked Setting in Rural Zimbabwe

Rukundo Kambarami recently published a paper on Community Heath Worker (CHW) Performance in the June Issue of Global Health Science and Practice. Her paper identified that different factors were associated with CHW performance on different tasks and discussed implications of these findings for CHW programs.

“Programs should consider specific tasks and how they relate to health worker factors, community support, and the work context… Overall, improving CHW performance in multi-task environments requires building a facilitative environment. This means using community-wide interventions that integrate CHW demographic factors, the community, and the work context.”

Click here for full manuscript

Breastfeeding and Maternal Nutrition in South Asia

CENTIR is excited for the new collaboration with the UNICEF South AsiaPromise to Impact Office! Rukundo Kambarami will lead this collaboration to examine the epidemiology of breastfeeding in South Asia, explore the effectiveness of strategies to support optimal breastfeeding practices and assess the quality of maternal nutrition and infant feeding counseling during antenatal care. This work will contribute to nutrition policy and programming in the region and directly address some of the calls to action in the recent Global Nutrition Report 2016: https://ncdalliance.org/sites/default/files/resource_files/130565.pdf

Use of formative research to develop a behaviour change strategy to promote iron-folic acid and calcium supplementation in pregnancy

UntitledA new article published in Maternal and Child Nutrition by Stephanie Martin, Gretchen Seim, Salome Wawire, Gina Chapleau, Sera Young and Kate Dickin, describes conducting in-depth interviews with pregnant and postpartum women and health workers in western Kenya to examine barriers and facilitators to adherence to prenatal micronutrient supplements. Findings were used to develop a multi-level behavior change approach with activities targeting the health system, health facility, community, household, and individual levels.

Click here for the full article

Click here to access the supplementary behavior change materials

“Fungal toxins are poisoning Africa’s children, says new report”

Science 2016

Fungal toxins on food is a massive problem especially for children; refugee camp, eastern DRC, Kate Holt/Oxfam (CC BY 2.0)

Professor Rebecca Stoltzfus and other’s collaborated on a recent report released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer which discusses the “invisible” epidemic of fungal toxins in food that stunt growth and delay development in many children in Africa and parts of Asia.

“The toxins have long been known to cause liver cancer and, in high enough concentrations, death. But this is the first time that they have been shown by multiple studies to contribute significantly to childhood development.”

The report recommends strategies including field treatment, improved approaches to food storage, and diet diversification which will likely be part of the solution moving forward.

To view the full article published in Science, visit: sciencemag.org

For more information on mycotoxin control, please visit: iarc.fr

Measuring women’s time use to improve implementation of nutrition programs


Men in a focus group discussion & women attending routine growth monitoring. Phikalamaza Health Centre, Lundazi District. Photo by C. R. Matare

Dr. Cynthia Matare (PhD International Nutrition, Cornell University, 2015) shares her work as an IMMANA Fellow on Measuring Women’s Time Use to Improve Implementation of Nutrition Programs.

“…Previous estimates suggest that women in rural Africa average 18-hour work days, with very little rest or leisure time. It has also been recognized that their time is zero-sum in that any new activity is added at the expense of another, usually sleep or rest time. These constraints on women’s time could potentially have a negative effect on their capabilities to: (1) access agriculture and nutrition interventions; (2) choose to make use of these interventions; and (3) eventually implement the recommended practices in their homes.”

For full article visit: IMMANA BLOG, Dr. Matare

Use of Mentoring Relationships to Build Capacity for Multisectoral Nutrition Systems

What is the Issue?

Fifty-four countries are taking part in the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, and are putting plans and strategies in place to use a multisectoral approach to reduce chronic malnutrition. Much attention in SUN has been dedicated to raising awareness, obtaining commitments, and coordinating stakeholders at the global and national levels. Although multisectoral nutrition policies continue to roll out, there is little information to date on how it is functioning below the regional level and how it is impacting communities.

SUN countriesTanzania has become one of the leading nations within the SUN MOVEMENT with a strong, progressive National Nutrition Strategy and growing commitment to nutrition across nine key ministries. In order to continue to raise the profile of nutrition and improve nutrition outcomes, it is paramount to support the newly created position of the District Nutrition Officer (DNuO) and ensure that the current scopes of practice, supervisory and reporting structures, technical capacities, and relationships among district officers and diverse cadres are aligned in strong and efficient ways to meet nutrition goals.

What do we aim to achieve?

Cornell researchers have partnered with representatives from five leading Tanzanian institutions and have jointly developed a strong action plan during a 2-week Collaborative Nutrition Workshop held at Cornell in Oct 2015.

Overall this project aims to increase knowledge at the district level in optimal approaches for:

 (1) Involving multiple sectors in addressing nutrition priorities; (2) Coordinating nutrition programming among the various sectors; and (3) Increasing the capacity to deliver effective nutrition interventions at the district and community levels.


(From left) Haikael Martin, Mary Mosha, Sia Msuya and Clara Mollay discuss how to build capacity for District Nutrition Officers in Tanzania

This team will build and support the Tanzanian nutrition system in two rural districts, advocating for multisectoral action by establishing and supporting beneficial relationships between academic institutions, district officers, and natural community leaders.  To do this, we will:

  • Strengthen the capacity of the District Nutrition Officer (DNuO) to teach, support and advocate for nutrition activities within the district.
  • Collaboratively identify key areas to strengthen to increase nutrition capacity including the promotion of community-driven and community-led interventions.
  • Mentor the DNuO to identify key strengths and weaknesses and come up with tailored plans to capitalize on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

Experts from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUCo), Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), and the Tanzanian Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) are structuring mentorship teams to be embedded in these 2 rural districts, and are systematically documenting their actions and outcomes, as a basis for recommending larger scale support to the local nutrition system throughout Tanzania.