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Friday, July 12, 2024

Gvt partners UNICEF in reducing cases of malnutrition among children

Story by Mercy Bofu-Matinha

IN the face of the El Nino-induced drought, the government and its partners have started interventions to ensure cases of malnutrition among children are managed at community level.

The government in partnership with UNICEF have started scaling up nutrition programmes through training caregivers in the Dewure area of Bikita where 56 cases have been recorded.

“Bikita is among districts with high cases of stunting and the situation is likely to be worsened by drought this year. So far, we have recorded 56 cases of malnutrition among children. However, we are happy that the government and its partners have quickly intervened using the care-group approach. We now have community-based caregivers screening and teaching villagers the importance of giving nutritious food to their children,” said Bikita district nutritionist in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Mr Advance Sidya.

The response focuses on empowering communities.

Caregivers are being trained to screen children for malnutrition and teach others how to prepare nutritious meals using available resources.

“We were trained to assist in fighting malnutrition among children in our villages. We move around teaching lactating mothers and other women how to prepare nutritious meals and screening for malnutrition,” said a caregiver.

“We have seen a lot of improvement in the way we prepare our meals because we were taught to make use of our available resources to prepare those meals,” said a community member.

UNICEF’s chief communications officer, Yves Willemot emphasises the importance of community-based platforms like care groups.

“Working with the government through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, UNICEF is trying to scale up the community-based platforms like the care groups where mothers inform each other about good feeding practices in the challenging context of drought. What we want is to make sure that children continue to get diverse and nutritious foods that they need for their development.”

The community-based interventions complement other government initiatives, including food aid programs, community gardens, and fisheries projects, all aimed at mitigating the impact of the drought on food security.

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