Tackling malnutrition in Mali

Simple yet effective nutrition practices prove key in reducing chronic malnutrition in Mali’s breadbasket

By Cindy Cao
 Sikasso est l’une des régions les plus fertiles du Mali et de nombreuses personnes vivent des terres verdoyantes et approvisionnent les autres régions du pays en produits frais.
UNICEF/UN0119056/Sokhin

21 September 2017

In Mali, more than one child in four suffers from chronic malnutrition. In the southern region of Sikasso, long considered the breadbasket of Mali, the rate is even higher. This paradox has become a catalyst to tackle malnutrition head-on, through a community-based awareness programme involving local authorities and role model mothers to encourage good nutrition practices by mothers.

Sikasso is one of Mali’s most fertile regions and many people live off the verdant land, supplying the country’s other regions with fresh produce.

 3 fermiers
UNICEF/UN0119058/Sokhin

Regular rainfall and arable soils mean all manners of produce are grown, ranging from crops such as rice and potatoes to vegetables such as tomatoes and bell peppers.

 Sur le marché de Koutiala, les produits alimentaires sont abondants et variés.
UNICEF/UN0119052/Sokhin

At the marketplace in Koutiala, food produce is bountiful and varied, yet Sikasso has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in Mali — over 30% in 2016. Malnutrition is about more than just food availability.

 Gaossou (à gauche) et Aminata ont tous deux 5 ans
UNICEF/UN0119054/Sokhin

Gaossou (left) and Aminata are both 5-years-old, yet Gassou is visibly shorter because he suffers from chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition hampers the ability of children to learn and their future potential to earn, as well as the social and economic progress of the countries in which they live.

 Bernard Coulibaly, responsable local de la coordination des activités de nutrition à Yorosso
UNICEF/UN0119048/Sokhin

Bernard Coulibaly, a local official in charge of coordinating nutrition activities in Yorosso, has helped cut chronic malnutrition rates in half in his district in just two years. He was awarded the 2017 “Healthy Not Hungry” Global Goal award for his work in the fight against malnutrition.

 À Yorosso, des mères modèles, telles que Bassan Koita (centre), ont partagé leurs connaissances des pratiques clés en matière de santé, de nutrition et d'hygiène avec d'autres mères et éducatrices lors de séances utilisant des mots simples et avec le soutien de photos illustratives.
UNICEF/UN0119051/Sokhin

In Yorosso, role model mothers like Bassan Koita (centre) spread knowledge of key health, nutrition and hygiene practices to other mothers and caretakers in sessions using simple words and with the support of illustrative pictures.

 Kadiatou Dao, 26 ans, après avoir appris que le lait maternel était un aliment essentiel pour la santé et le développement des enfants lors d’une session dirigée par Bassan à Yorosso
UNICEF/UN0119045/Sokhin

"Exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months is very important, this helps my baby to be bright, he can be more resistant to diseases"

“Exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months is very important, this helps my baby to be bright, he can be more resistant to diseases” says Kadiatou Dao, 26, after learning that breastmilk is a crucial food for children’s health and development at a session led by Bassan in Yorosso.

 Pendant les séances, les mères apprennent également à préparer de la bouille enrichie en nutriments pour les bébés
UNICEF/UN0119041/Sokhin

During the sessions, mothers also learn to prepare nutrient-rich porridge for babies who are no longer exclusively breastfed, ensuring their children are fed nutritious and age-appropriate food.

 Les enfants de Yorosso apprennent que des pratiques simples peuvent aider à lutter contre la malnutrition à un âge précoce
UNICEF/2017/Sokhin

Children in Yorosso learn that simple practices can help combat malnutrition at an early age, such as handwashing with soap, and the use of hygienic latrines or toilets.

UNICEF Nutrition Officer Marietta Mounkouro is thrilled to see the health of children in the district improve so quickly.
UNICEF/UN0119028/Sokhin

"The main point is to reach a mutual understanding among all involved actors. The community-based and the multisectorial approaches are of crucial importance"

UNICEF Nutrition Officer Marietta Mounkouro is thrilled to see the health of children in the district improve so quickly. “The main point is to reach a mutual understanding among all involved actors. The community-based and the multisectorial approaches are of crucial importance.”

Une mère joue avec ses enfants
UNICEF/UN0119029/Sokhin

The success in Yorosso proves that simple and low-cost solutions, like promoting exclusive breastfeeding, proper complementary feeding and handwashing, can go a long way in preventing malnutrition, unleashing the potential of a whole generation of children.