By Aamon Butao
United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has disclosed that the AFIKEPO project which is being implemented in Mulanje District will help to reduce malnutrition among children by at least 60%.
FAO, UNICEF and the Ministry of Agriculture are implementing the project in 10 districts across the country with funding from the European Union.
FAO and UNICEF have pumped in $40 million for the project.
The aim of the project is to enhance nutrition and food security in Malawi and addressing chronic malnutrition in the country.
In an interview with Timveni, FAO Manager for Mulanje District, Misheck Mwambakulu, said since the inception of the project in 2017 there has been remarkable change and improvement in terms of nutrition and food security in the district.
He said currently Mulanje has a malnutrition rate of 36%.
The national malnutrition rate stands at 38%.
According to Mwambakulu, so far over 500 groups have been established in Mulanje to make sure that all targeted households in the district are served with nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
He added that families in the district are now practicing ways of dealing with malnutrition using locally-produced food sources.
He elaborated that the groups are encouraging families to have backyard gardens, engage in livestock production and diversify to other crops to ensure children have access to all 6 groups of food.
Mwambakulu, therefore, said children in the district are now looking healthier than before as households are enjoying the gains of the AFIKEPO project.
The groups are working together with Health Surveillance Assistants in making sure that families are practicing effective methods of ending malnutrition.
He said once malnourished children have been discovered, they are given the necessary support to make sure that they recover.
He, however, challenged that if a new survey would be conducted, the percentage of malnutrition in the district will be low.
He said it is the wish of FAO, UNICEF and the Ministry of Agriculture to see the malnutrition rate drop below thirty percent by the end of the project in 2023.
In her remarks, Health Surveillance Assistant from Kambenje Health Centre in the district, Maureen Kausiwa, said malnutrition was a big challenge in the district but now it is being dealt with.
Kausiwa said in her catchment area of group village Kukanda in the area of Traditional Authority Mkanda, no child is malnourished.
She said pregnant women are also encouraged to eat healthier so that the new born should have a strong body.
She hailed FAO officials in the area have helped a lot in dealing with malnutrition.
She, however, called on parents to make sure that children are given nutritious food.
The project is being implemented in 10 districts, among them Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Salima, Mulanje and Chiradzulu, targeting 675, 000 under-five children, pregnant women, lactating women and adolescents.