By Benjamim Capito, Communications Coordinator
Nampula province, in the north of Mozambique, has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition, although the region offers optimal agro-ecological conditions for agriculture.
According to the National Household Budget Survey (IOF, Portuguese acronym) for the 2019/2020 period, 46.70% of children under 5 years old suffer from chronic malnutrition, which remains a national high. The province has been in a much worse scenario, with 49.5% as per the 2013/2014 reporting period.
The six children of Filomena Manuel and Costa Rafael, who live in Minicane village, Muecate district, are no longer at the risk of falling into the statistic of chronic malnutrition thanks to the parents' awareness which led to the inclusion of diversified and fortified meals.
Filomena Manuel is one of the mothers who benefit from take-home rations provided by Educating Children Together – Phase III (ECT-3) project, implemented by World Vision-Mozambique in the districts of Muecate and Nacarôa.
For the past two years, she and her children have been receiving Corn Soya Blend plus (CSB) and vegetable oil on regular distributions.
This year was no different. Filomena, woke up before sunrise and arrived early at the distribution site, located in the health post of Minicane. She went with her youngest daughter Bélvia, 3 years old, who is fed with these high-nutrient foods.
“One day the volunteers from the Community Health Committee were making door-to-door visits and they announced that I was eligible to be a beneficiary of food distribution since, at the time, I was breastfeeding my daughter. Therefore, I’ve taken my identification documents and completed the process of registration”, Filomena explained.
On the distribution post, Filomena received 9kg of CSB+ and 3 liters of fortified vegetable oil. Her husband expects that the quantity provided will be enough to feed the children for three months since the family doesn’t rely only on the distribution, but also they grow seasoned crops.
The father of the household, Costa Rafael, is also a volunteer of the local Community Health Committee and, with the information obtained in trainings provided by World Vision, he supports Filomena’s efforts in prioritizing high-nutritional food for the children.
“We try to maintain balance in the way we feed our children. One day we may give them CSB porridge and another day we prepare cereals mixed with vegetables, peanuts, sugar, eggs and other ingredients,” detailed Filomena
Both parents rejoice that their children are healthy. Besides Bélvia, her older siblings have access to CSB+ in school during lunchtime. “My children have increased weight and they are strong because we provide them fortified meals,” said the father.
Both supplements (CSB+ and vegetable oil) are enriched with micronutrients, such as Vitamin “A” and folic acid, among others, crucial for the child's development in its first 1000 days of life. These commodities are funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the McGovern Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.
“The Community Health Volunteers have been trained by the project to assist pregnant and lactating women to prepare these enriched foods. The goal is to include in each meal at least four main groups of aliments: vegetables and fruit, grain foods, milk and milk products, and protein foods,” explained Celestina José, Health and Nutrition Officer of ECT-3 project.
During the Financial Year 2023 (FY23), the project will distribute take-home rations to 8,428 children under 2 years; 2,080 to children under 5 years and 18,198 pregnant and lactating women. Also within this period, a total of 2100 metric tons of CSB+ and 60 metric tons of Vegetable oil will be shipped to the project and distributed to beneficiaries.
According to the Senior Commodities Officer for ECT-3 project, Joel Manhique, the project is using the Last Mile Mobile Solutions (LMMS) to manage distributions of take-home rations. “The LMMS is a tool that brings more efficiency for the distributions because it prevents duplication, enhances accountability, transparency, and provides us with reliable data,” he pointed out.
Even though improvements have been made through the years, there is a long path to trail, and part of the process has to do with behaviour change and the dissemination of healthy and dietary practices that address the needs of a pregnant and breastfeeding mother, including children under five years.