Forty seven percent of under-five children in Mwanza District in the southern of Malawi are said to be malnourished.
This was revealed by Assistant Social Welfare Officer Aaron Macheka during training for 120 Child Care givers in the district.
Macheka attributed the problem to ignorance and poverty.
“Due to ignorance, most parents in the district fail to identify signs of malnutrition in their children while in some cases it is because of lack food at household level.”
“Some parents misunderstand a child’s changing features to gaining weight especially in cases of Kwashiorkor or marasmus where the face is puffed-up,” said Macheka
He said it was against this background that Community Based Child Care Centres were established in the district where Child Care Givers provide civic education to parents and give special care to pregnant women and under-five children.
“This is why we are training these Child Care Givers on food preparation so that they give necessary and well prepared food to children and pregnant mothers in their communities to minimise the levels of malnutrition and stunted growth at community level and the district as a whole” he said.
The trainings were being funded by the Foundation for Community Livelihood and Development (FOCOLD) through a project called Thanzi la mwana.
FOCOLD Executive Director Jones Mwalwanda said realizing the gravity of malnutrition in the district the organization came up with the project which is aimed at improving nutrition in respective communities using locally available resources.
“We are also providing them with farm inputs such as vegetable and leguminous seeds so that they come up with backyards gardens, for food as well as income,” he said.
The one year project which is ‘subject to extension’ is financially supported by MONSANTO Funds to the tune of K20 million ($35 714).
According to Mwanza District Nutritional Coordinator Maryana Banda the initiatives by government and other non-governmental organisations are bearing fruits.
“Through a mother project called Support for Nutrition Improvement Component (SNIC) together we have managed to minimise the level of malnutrition in Mwanza which was at 56 percent two years ago, this is a good way to go,” explained Banda.
Government plans to minimise the level of malnutrition in Mwanza to 22.3 percent by 2022.