Insufficient food intake and a lack of diversity in the diet can lead to children becoming malnourished.
World Vision Ireland’s AIM Health Plus project has been working closely with local partner Advocates for Sustainable Health and Wealth Africa (ASHWA) to improve household food security and nutrition in Busia District. ASHWA uses a community-based approach to address child malnutrition, supporting families to have the tools to help their children to gain weight in the family setting and to prevent them from becoming malnourished.
This has been achieved through social mobilisation, local problem assessment and action planning, complemented by tailored nutrition and food security interventions at the community level. Community Health workers (CHWs) have been trained to monitor child growth and identify children who are malnourished. They then work with the families to determine the possible causes and come up with an action plan to treat and prevent future malnutrition. Depending on the cause identified, interventions can include counselling, referral to the health facility for treatment or participation in a livelihood-creation, microcredit, or social protection programme.
Nurturing Care Groups (NCG) have been trained on the establishment and management of kitchen gardens for households and the care of bio fortified crops (crops high in iron for example). Every group member was supported with quick yielding vegetable seeds and encouraged to use other locally available vegetable seeds within the community to promote the growing of backyard vegetables. Over 300 NCG were supported in establishing their own kitchen gardens within their households. The NCG members further supported over1500 neighbours in establishing their own backyard gardens and shared information on nutrition and the benefits of their gardening activities. ASHWA works closely with government Agricultural Officers to ensure sustainability of these gardens across other households.
The use of various approaches, including NCGs, has led to improvements in food quality and availability in households in Busia and to a reduction in the number of malnutrition cases across the district.