GROW HOPE FOUNDATION NUTRITION PROGRAM
This information was provided by Dr. Isaac. It shares his thoughts on how we began and what we have accomplished with regards to nutrition.
In 2013 July, Kimberly made her first visit to the children’s hospital in Jinja (Uganda). While there, she observed the numerous numbers of children who were hospitalized. The wards were fully congested (a ward meant for 20 children was being occupied by 100+, with more than 3 children sharing a bed and their parents sleeping beneath the beds).
More to that, there was a ward that was designated to the severely malnourished children which was also at full capacity, while the number of hospitalized children majority 5 years and below seemed overwhelming, those managed as out patients far out numbered the admission and the hospital registered an average of 7 deaths per day.
Her question to the companion was; why and how could the situation be extenuated sustainably?
Basing on the available hospital and district data, most ailments stemmed from;
· Poor hygiene and sanitation practices
· Nutritional deficiencies
Under-nutrition is a significant health problem that contributes to 60 percent of deaths among children less than 5 years. Indicators for stunting (33 percent) and underweight (14 percent) are high, and only 10 percent of children 6 to 23 months of age consume a minimal acceptable diet.
Empowering the communities with information through education is one sustainable and cost effective measure that would ensure that beneficiaries take active role in improving their standards of living and inspiring them to shape their future.
It’s from this background that Tusubira village demo gardens were established in an area, which had high prevalence of malnutrition among children due to poor diet and inadequate food intake. The gardens are on 5acres of land with varieties of crops. The demo gardens are also used for testing and adopting of new technologies that can address the ever-changing agro-ecological conditions, which hinder successful food production.
Most families concentrate on growing of cereals and root tubers, which only provide carbohydrates for families but at the demo gardens, the varieties of crops grown are an inspiration to households to diversify their local food production to include legumes, fruits, vegetables bio-fortified crops, small livestock and create awareness about nutritional sensitive agriculture.
The choice of products with which to diversify production is based on an analysis of local diets and nutritional gaps to be addressed; existing production practices; agro-ecological conditions and local livelihoods.
With the variety of crops grown, there is always reasonable amount of yield much of which is taken to the market and sold to generate income for sustainability of the demo gardens.
Another proportion of the yield is used to make fortified porridge (with carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins) served to 30 children from our community school everyday. These children come from vulnerable families that are not able to pay for their meals at school and they would go whole day at school on an empty stomach. The same is being piloted in two schools being supported to set up and manage school gardens. This is aimed at targeting children of 10 to 18 years, so as to increase their knowledge and skills in farming and nutritional sensitive agriculture as a strategy to reduce hunger and malnutrition in school going children especially with their active participation to secure generational sustainability of the initiative.
To date, we have been able to directly impact on over 150 families. These have been empowered and inspired to improve crop production with attention to nutritional sensitivity.
There is reduced prevalence of cases of observable malnutrition
There is increased food production and income generation at households of the families piloted
Reduced cases of children from our area of operation being admitted at the children’s hospital due to malnutrition
Malnutrition slows economic growth and affects human capital and productivity through direct loss in productivity from poor physical status, indirect loss from poor cognitive function, deficits in schooling and losses owing to increased health care costs. At the individual level, the productivity losses are estimated at more than 66 percent of lifetime earnings, based on direct estimates of the impact of stunting in early life on later life outcomes (Hoddinott et al, 2011). The project contributes to development by improving food and nutrition security in vulnerable families through increased production and consumption of nutritious food and improved utilization of selected community-based nutrition services. Specifically, the project will support the scaling up of homestead garden and school-based demonstration gardens to promote year-round homestead production and consumption of micronutrient-rich foods.
CROPS GROWN AT THE DEMO GARDENS
Collard greens (spinach)
Iron and zinc bio-fortified beans
Vitamin A bio-fortified potatoes
Sweet and hot pepper
The food crops are intended to address the most rampant nutritional deficiencies
· Protein deficiencies
· Vitamin deficiencies
· Iron deficiencies, which is responsible for so many deaths due to anemia. The deficiency is worsened by infestation with worms