Child Survival, Development & Thriving Programamme has teamed up with the Centre for Community Justice & Development (CCJD) in a joint nutrition project.
The project is focused on integrating households into production of nutritious food crops and developing sustainable diets aimed at improving nutrition status in children of under the age of five, pregnant women and vulnerable women of reproductive age focusing on the First 1000 Most Critical Days in child’s life.
The lockdowns due to disruptive nature of Covid-19 led to increased unemployment, household food insecurity and limited access to nutritious diets. In addition, family incomes are not enough to afford expensive refined nutritious products on the markets. During the lockdown last year, CCJD staff received hundreds of requests for food parcels from local residents. When distributing food parcels and handing them out, they visited people’s homes and were distressed to see the extent of food shortages and lack of nutritious porridge/food for children. In response, CCJD employed an expert with a PhD in food and agriculture to develop strategies for sustainable food production and diets at household level.
The nutrition project is aligned to one of NMCF’s health programme - Child Survival, Development and Thriving (CSDT) which support pregnant women and children under the age of fives. Emphasis is on supporting initiatives that improves good health outcomes, prevent malnutrition, strengthen families and building community initiatives that are intended to increase quality health services for children. Efforts of this programme are concentrated on first 1000 days of life of a child. With its commitment to ensure that children live a long, healthy and fulfilling life, NMCF is deliberate when addressing health and nutrition. Given the high levels of stunted and malnourished children, emphasis is on creating affordable healthy foods and increasing health education and awareness.
The joint program will also provide pathways for alternative, affordable and nutritious food products at household level. The program will work with Community Health Workers (CHWs) from the Department of Health to identify families in need, with an emphasis on households that have children under the age of 5, and pregnant women. In instances where malnourished children are identified, they will be put on a rehabilitation feeding programme. The program will train these households and other local women to start the gardens of indigenous leafy vegetables, and also train families on utilization and processing of locally available nutritious grain legumes such as groundnuts (peanuts), cowpea and soybean. The production of these crops will assure household diets rich in nutrients such as iron, zinc, proteins and essential fatty acids for the health of families and their children.
Seven (7) gardens were established, five of which have been planted and two gardens were suspended due to sustained conflicts among the community members. The planted leafy vegetables are bean, cowpea, okra, amaranthus, and pumpkin. The common vegetables such as spinach, kale and lettuce are also planted for adaptation of vertical garden on commonly available leafy vegetables.
Below are images from the launch lunch in Pietermaritzburg, where children were tasting food from veggies that were from the gardens.
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