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More than 6 out of 10 children under five in West Laboya are underweight or suffer from chronic malnutrition or stunting. The extreme poverty, prevalence of malaria and high prevalence of diarrhoea among children under-five are some of contributing factors. This multi-faceted problem, requires a multi-pronged approach. Clean water and sanitation, improvement of basic health services, health and hygiene promotion, parenting classes, cooking classes and intensification of household nutrition garden initiatives are some of the tools supported by Footprints that have been used to fight malnutrition.
Support from Footprints has helped to establish household nutrition gardens, health promotion and coaching sessions, cooking classes and Nutrition Education and Rehabilitation Sessions (NERS) which contributed to a reduction by 4% of children under weight in West Laboya, Sumba, Indonesia, within less than a year of implementation. This is quite remarkable as expected results usually are a reduction of only 1% each year. In addition to this amazing result, the project also:
In our design we wanted the 10 community health posts (posyandu) that have access to water, to create nutrition gardens at the health post. In that way, the harvest could be used for cooking classes, for additional food for underweight children that visit the health post, and the community members would see the results of the gardens. We hoped this would raise their interest and create enthusiasm to try this at home. 50 community health volunteers were trained in the principles of permaculture. During the hands-on training, the participants learned to identify soil conditions, create garden bedding, use planting and rotation systems, integrated pest management using natural resources (such as chili, turmeric, lemongrass) and detergent, a well as seed production.
Intensive coaching from the trainer, including follow-up by phone coaching, stimulated the participants to plant nutrition gardens in their own yards, rather than just at the Health Posts. To date 40 households have their nutrition gardens, growing vegetables and herbs, including eggplant, bok choy, chili, lemon grass, long beans, string beans, carrot, spinach and water spinach. Most of the harvests are used for family consumption, shared with their neighbors or shared for cooking classes at the Health Posts. 5 households have even been able to sell their produce at the local market.
In the remote communities, most mothers and caregivers have no knowledge of the nutritional value of a meal, or of the vegetables they are growing. Cooking classes provide a fun way for families to learn how to prepare affordable, delicious and nutritious meals that children like to eat.
The food used in the cooking classes is made from local ingredients such as moringa leaf, mung bean, carrot, cassava and string bean. Some participants bring their own nutrition garden harvest to share for the cooking class. Over the last year mung bean porridge, rice porridge with chicken and moringa leaf, healthy snacks like traditional cassava cake, stuffed cassava balls and pumpkin donuts were prepared and most importantly, consumed the cooking classes. Both parents and their children really like the new ways of preparing food. The pumpkin donuts are a big hit, not just with the kids, but also with the parents/caretakers.
During the cooking classes, SurfAid staff and health volunteers encourage the parents and caretakers to take part in preparing food and practicing feeding, especially for children under two. Overall, 220 mothers and caretakers (25% of total mothers with children under five) joined in 6-8 sessions per Health Post.
As the nutrition status of some children was very alarming, a more intensive approach was needed. In addition to cooking classes, SurfAid also conducted Nutrition Education Rehabilitation Sessions (NERS) in Pegarewa hamlet, Patiala Dete village . The mothers and caretakers of under nourished children followed 7 consecutive days of intensive coaching on how to prepare food for their under nourished kids, effective feeding practices, and hygiene. 21 under nourished children and their mothers joined NERS and 17 (81%) of them gained weight (200 to 2000 grams) within 2 cycles of NERS.
Further, community health volunteers and SurfAid staff coach the caregivers on child rearing, including taking their children every month to the Health Post to check the nutritional status of the children and checking on health status during regular home visits.
All these efforts combined contributed to a reduction in underweight children under 5 in West Laboya from 32.2% (May 2016) to 28% (September 2016).
Roslin Kela Beko (30 years old), better known as Mama Ross, attended our permaculture training in April 2016. Soon after the training, Mama Ross planted a nutrition garden in her home yard. She admitted that she faces a lot of challenges in maintaining her nutrition garden. “The chickens and grasshoppers eat my seeds!” she said, exasperated. To deal with this, she and her husband agreed to share the responsibility for the nutrition garden. So whenever Mama Ross is away, her husband will take of care their nutrition garden.
Mama Ross has now harvested twice. The first harvest was mainly used for her family but the second harvest was more bountiful, and her neighbors and other community members wanted to buy her vegetables. She proudly explains that her customers have already pre-ordered her next harvest of vegetables!
Mama Ross is getting additional income of $13 to $18 per week from her garden. This might not sound like much, but if you compare this to an average monthly income of $ 120 you see just how big a change this is. She uses some of the money to buy eggs for her grandchildren. She says that she is now able to buy 30 eggs every month.
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