Eating better to grow well
Women from communities affected by the Ebola epidemic are working together to provide an adequate diet to their children.
- Available in:
Every week in Kalungata, thirty women gather to discuss nutrition and revenue-generating activities. They are members of a support group on nutrition for infants and young children, who work together to enable their children to grow in the best possible conditions.
“Thanks to the amaranths that I harvested and sold, my children go to school and never lack food,” explains Sifa Kahindo, a participant in the support group. A few weeks ago, the mother undertook a course and received aid to start her own revenue-generating activity. Sifa also received advice on how to improve the nutrition of her children, and on how to detect cases of malnutrition in her family.
The Kalunguta health zone was heavily hit by the Ebola virus disease, which made vulnerable a population already wounded by conflict and violence. Thanks to the support of Global Affairs Canada, the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), UNICEF established a community-based nutrition project to reinforce the resilience of the population. UNICEF accompanied more than 200 community activity committees who, in turn, created 254 support groups composed essentially of mothers.
“When I learned how to detect cases of malnutrition, I noticed that my daughter, Blessing, was having some health problems,” explains Noëlla Kabuo, another participant in the support group. Thanks to this early diagnosis, the little girl was quickly admitted to the health centre by UNICEF and was able to return to good health. “I am continuing to give her nutritional foods so that she can grow in good health,” concludes Noëlla, who has established a vegetable garden.
Katya invested in raising chickens in order to improve the diet of her children, who were not gaining weight. “When the chickens lay eggs, we eat some of them and sell the others in order to diversify our diet,” explains the mother who is happy to see her children in good health.
These support groups also allow pregnant women to adopt the best diet possible to give birth to healthy children. When a woman eats poorly during her pregnancy, this could delay the physical and mental growth and development of the child. This delay cannot be remedied after childbirth and the child would suffer for their entire life.
“I was feeding my family without taking nutritional standards into account,” admits Furaha Katunga, who is 7 months pregnant. Thanks to the advice received in the support group, she now knows the best foods to feed to her children, as well as the best foods to eat during pregnancy.
“Our diet is now balanced and I am assured that my baby will be born in good health,” concludes Furaha, who has committed herself to feeding her baby exclusively with breast milk in the baby’s first six months of life.