Positive Deviance/Hearth approach, an effective way to fight malnutrition

"Pity it is what I used to feel for myself. During my early childhood, I suffered a lot because of health problems.” said Rabi full of emotions. Due to illness caused by poor nutrition Rabi almost stopped her schooling.

Rabi, 13, was born and raised in the community of Kokorou, located in western part of Niger, near the Burkina Faso border. Since the tender age of two, she lived with her grandmother, Hadjara Maliki. Rabi's childhood was prone to repetitive illnesses. “I took Rabi with me since she was 2 years old. Until she was 6, she was not eating well because I was having financial difficulties since the death of my husband. This affected her wellbeing. I finally decided to bring her to the health center. Once there, the doctor made me understand that Rabi was malnourished. He then directed me to a program implemented by World Vision that deals with malnourished children” Hadjara said.

Then Rabi’s grandmother participated in health awareness sessions on the contribution of enriched porridge for children affected by malnutrition through the Positive Deviance/Heart (PD/Heart) approach, which is a community-based rehabilitation and behavior change intervention for families with underweight preschool children. She was trained on preparing enriched meals for the well-being of her small child. As part of the program, Rabi and her grandmother received cowpeas, flour, oil and sugar to improve Rabi's nutrition. “Right after the program, I felt different, it is like I was another person”, Rabi emphasized.

Rabi had fallen behind in her schooling because of her malnutrition. "Very often, I could not go to school, I even had to repeat the second grade class, now I feel good, I hope to finish high school and go to school for a long time”, she said.

Rabi after a day of school

With the support of World Vision, Rabi has been able to overcome the challenge she was facing. “

For several years, World Vision Niger has been working in Kokorou to help build a better quality of life for children and their families through various activities, such as health and nutrition promotion, providing potable water, promoting sanitation and encouraging better hygiene practices.

“I want to go to medical school because I want to treat my relatives such as my grandmother and my little brother who are very often sick. A few years ago, I did not even think about finishing my primary cycle. But now I am happy because I have gained hope for my future. I am very grateful to my grandmother. Without her, my health would not have been restored.” Rabi said with a smiling face.

Learn more about World Vision's work to ensure all children enjoy good health.