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Busia steps-up efforts to address malnutrition challenge

The County Government of Busia, Egerton University and Boitekanelo College of Botswana have embarked on a community nutrition programme in the region for improved nutrition outcomes for women and young children.

The County Nutrition Coordinator Scholastic Nabade noted that stunting levels in children below the age of five stood at 22.2 per cent in Busia which she termed alarming considering Busia’s rich agricultural potential.

“Malnutrition is not a burden for the health sector alone, and thus the need to bring on board other sectors in order to fast-track malnutrition issues to be able to achieve the World Health Organization goals of reducing stunted growth and increasing breastfeeding,” said Nabade.

She said lack of knowledge was among key factors leading to malnutrition and that was why they were embracing partnerships to trickle down key information to relevant target groups including pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Dr Maureen Cheserek, a lecturer in the Department of human nutrition, Egerton University said their aim was to train and validate good agricultural and nutrition practices and technologies adopted by farmers to ensure that they improve their nutrition and livelihoods.

“From our baseline survey, we realized that most of the farmers do not consume fish and therefore we felt it good to sensitize them on the health benefits of fish,” said Cheserek.

They were speaking at a forum organized by the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project at Wakhungu Hatcheries in Samia Sub County that attracted various stakeholders including County Fisheries and Nutrition officers, fish farmers and vendors and community Health Volunteers (CHVs).

The forum was meant to sensitize the local community on nutrition, health benefits of fish, women and children recommended food and importance of value addition.

Among the activities included how to cook fish, fish value added products and diverse diets from other food groups.

According to Grace Khatenya, a master’s student in human nutrition, Africa has almost similar nutrition problems hence the need for the partnership among nutrition experts.

Khateya thanked the Busia County government for its support emphasizing on the importance of solving nutrition challenges professionally.

Thato Gokatweng from Botswana alluded to the fact that different perspectives they get from community interaction will guide them to new interventions in addressing malnutrition.

Farmers, led by Patrick Nyamori who started fish farming through the Economic stimulus program (ESP) welcomed more of such trainings and challenged men to support nutrition programmes.

By Absalom Namwalo

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