Simple recipes improve child nutrition

Cooking classes teach new mothers techniques on feeding newborns and young children.

Sibylle Desjardins (translated from French by Marguerite McMillan)
Une démonstration culinaire
UNICEF DRC Desjardins
14 September 2020

On the last Friday of every month, dozens of Moms get together in someone's yard in Kinshasa to discuss health and nutrition. During a cooking demonstration, they learn how to prepare a nutritious porridge made from local food and they get a chance to see how their children are growing and to check for malnutrition.

Merveille, who is 19, never misses a day. "By coming here, we get to learn how to feed our children", said the young Mom. Thanks to the advice given to her during her pregnancy, Merveille began breastfeeding her baby as soon as it was born and continued to do so exclusively for the next six months.

Une maman qui porte dans ses bras une fillette
UNICEF DRC Desjardins

"After 6 months, I gave her food supplements and she is progressing nicely", said Merveille, proudly. Today, little Juliana is 11 months and weighs 10 kilos.

The porridge, which is made from local products costs very little, is balanced and helps children thrive. Food monotony is in fact a major cause of malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where about one out of two children under 5 suffers from chronic malnutrition.

Un relais communautaire tenant une boîte à images
UNICEF DRC Desjardins

With coronavirus, the level of participation in cooking demonstrations dwindled and community workers redoubled their efforts to mobilise and re-assure the Moms. "There are now new measures in place like a handwashing station and the obligation to wear a mask", explained one of them.

To fight chronic malnutrition in the country, UNICEF continues to promote proper hygiene and food practices that are accessible and adapted, particularly exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months followed by food supplements that are rich, balanced, affordable, and available locally for up to 24 months.