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ActionAid chips in with porridge programme to curb malnutrition in Manicaland

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 12:03

Faint cries can be heard along the corridors of Nyamidzi Clinic as scores of women, some heavily pregnant and the majority with toddlers on their laps queue to have their children attended to by the local nurses. Among the mothers is Eurita Bongo (33) who has come to the clinic with her fourth child, Marvellous (2). Marvellous has come to the clinic for her regular check-ups.

Unknown to Eurita is that Marvellous is malnourished. After thorough screening by Sister Connie Munyoro, one of the nurses at Nyamidzi Clinic, Marvellous’ s upper arm and middle circumference (MUAC) is lower than the normal and expected for a child of her age. This automatically places Marvellous as one of the beneficiaries of Corn Soya Blend (CSB) which is a supplementary feed in form of porridge for children who are malnourished.

The porridge was donated by ActionAid in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare supported by a Danish Television (DTV) Project. Children aged between 6 and 59 months whose MUAC ranges between 11,5cm to 12,4 cm are regarded as suffering from Acute Malnutrition. The ActionAid initiative to support the children and pregnant mothers comes as efforts to curb malnutrition following the El-nino induced drought in 2016 that hit some areas of Nyazura in Makoni District in which Nyamidzi Clinic is located.

After the screening processes and counselling from Sister Munyoro, a grateful Eurita goes back home with 6kgs of the Corn Soya Blend to supplement Marvellous’ s diet,

I am very grateful. I have been stressed with Marvellous as she struggles to eat and she has been underweight and I was not aware that she was malnourished. Now with the porridge we can now provide variety to her diet as I could only afford to give her sadza (thick porridge) in the morning and in the evening again, said Eurita.

Eurita, who is a mother of four, is living on a hand to mouth basis as she and her husband do not have any meaningful economic activity for the households. Her husband who is a builder, has been unlucky in securing contracts and they have been struggling to make ends meet. Eurita and her family now rely on her participation in the ActionAid supported local Rural women Assembly (RWA) group that she joined.

“I joined RWA in 2014 and I managed to buy 4 goats which I rely on to pay my children’s school fees as I want all my children to be educated. The little we get from the goat sales helps us pay for schools,” she said. The RWA is a rural woman grouping supported by ActionAid in various programmes such as socio-economic empowerment.

Marvellous is among the scores of infants under 5 years of age with a MUAC between 11,5-12,4 cm who are set to benefit from the proceeds of the porridge distributed at three clinics in Nyazura namely Nyamidzi, Nedziwa and Mukamba. Each clinic received 75 bags of 6kgs a sachet of the CSB with 300 children set to benefit from this first batch of the distribution while an additional 900 after the second batch. The distribution of the CSB comes under the DTV project implemented in partnership with ActionAid Zimbabwe.

The DTV project seeks to support children and communities in selected wards of Buhera, Chipinge and Makoni districts in Manicaland Province to recover from the impact of the worst El-Niño induced drought and is set to reach out to 145,668 children and 73,504 vulnerable adults (at least 54% female) from 48,556 households.

Using what is called the Child Protection in Emergencies Priorities, Principles and Practices (CPEPPP) and augmenting what is entitled the Core Humanitarian Standards on Quality and Accountability, this project will ensure that child protection interventions are part of every first phase response and subsequent recovery focusing on protection dangers that children face and how to address them. This will include the sensitization and awareness of targeted communities on child hunger and stakeholder accountability. This will empower the communities on their expectations during the delivery of emergency relief aid in terms of quality services and accountability during such periods, focusing on children primarily.