Investigating local group Shared Values: An example from East Lombok, Indonesia 

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It is also essential for us to teach our children religion because we believe in our faith. So this is something important that we do for our children. So they know what’s right and what’s wrong. A statement from a mother in Indonesia participating in Action Against Stunting Hub’s research finds a link with stunting prevention.

The Shared Values work stream, one of the multiple work packages at Hub, allows me to interact with small local groups, such as mothers or fathers, to hear their values-based perspectives on topics related to stunting, as exemplified above.

In August this year, I visited East Lombok, Indonesia, to understand the implications of cultural values encompassing religion, family dynamics, and more in stunting prevention. Collaborating closely with local researchers Rita Anggorowati and Winda Hapsari, we used the specific methodology – the WeValue InSitu method.  

Why investigate local Shared Values and Values-based perspectives? 

It is essential to understand local group Shared Values for several reasons.

The Action Against Stunting hub focuses on the Whole Child Approach, whereby many aspects that influence stunting are being investigated, from gut health to food systems. What local people value (essential in life for them) can significantly influence their preferences and behaviours. For example, in East Lombok, religious belief is fundamental, and living by Islam is vital to daily life.

This can influence how local people educate their children as well as hygiene and food choices, which is highly relevant for the other teams of the Hub. More than this, from an ethical perspective, when researchers want to implement an intervention within a community, it is essential to know if any values within the community will mean that the intervention is unacceptable and should be adopted.  

During the focus group discussions, we ask participants about their lives. For example:

  • Where do you prefer to buy food?  
  • What does a typical day look like for you?  
  • Who helps you to look after the children when you are out?  
  • What do you usually cook? 
  • When you have extra money, what food do you prefer to buy? 

We then feed the answers from these questions back to the other teams in the Hub, helping them inform their research. 

An Example of Shared Values Framework from East Lombok 

The WeValue InSitu workshops result in the production of a Shared Values framework made by the participants. A group member then describes to us how the shared values link together. In this framework, from mothers in East Lombok, we can see things that are important to them, for example: 

“It is important to us to pray and read the Quran in front of children when they are still very young as this is seen as a good example for them to follow in the future.” 

“It is important to communicate with your partner to maintain togetherness.” 

These shared values emphasize what we knew to be essential elements of local culture from our previous field visit in 2019: togetherness, praying, and reading the Quran. Interestingly, some new themes arose during our field trip in August, such as the influence of technology in children’s lives, as exemplified by this shared value: 

“It is important to us to educate children according to their era to adapt so that they do not fall into the development of increasingly sophisticated technology.” 

A Shared Values Framework from a group of Mothers in East Lombok, Indonesia. Photo: Zongliang Ma 

Importance of working with local researchers 

Another focus of our recent trip to East Lombok was training local researchers to facilitate the workshops. This is an essential part of equitable partnerships, and it is far more comfortable for the participants to speak to facilitators in their own language!

As participants often discuss sensitive and emotional topics during the workshops, we must do as much as possible to build trust and make them feel comfortable. Namely, Ahmad and Sriani, the Action Against Stunting Hub Indonesia team, were integral members who could translate from Bahasa to the local dialect, Sasak.

Without the expert local knowledge of the Indonesian Team led by Dr. Umi Fahmida, it would not have been possible for us to engage with the local community so profoundly. Personally, I have found it very rewarding to be a part of such a hardworking and inspiring international team! 

Our next steps 

Now that we have the digitized versions of the Shared Values Frameworks and Narratives and Focus Group transcripts, we will analyse these for cultural and Hub workstream themes, respectively. We will also focus on identifying project legacies of the Action Against Stunting Hub from team members such as local enumerators, researchers, teachers, and community members. 

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