Nutritionists have said informed communities are key to improving nutrition levels in the country.
Speaking on Wednesday in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mzikubola in Mzimba District, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) senior nutrition coordinator for the district John-Bosco Kasitomu urged the country to adopt healthy nutrition habits to combat malnutrition.
The remarks come at a time when the district has recorded a 10 percent reduction in its stunting levels over the past five years, a development that has been attributed to local communities’ willingness to combat malnutrition.
Said Kasitomu: “Communities have to be at the centre of any intervention crucial in combating malnutrition. Stakeholders should not ignore them. Providing relevant information, skills and knowledge, therefore, is key.”
He was speaking during events to mark the phasing out of Supporting for Nutrition Improvement Component (Snic), a three-year project that the district council was implementing with financial and technical support from FUM.
The district, alongside Mchinji, used to have high prevalence rates in stunting despite the two districts forming part of the country’s food baskets.
Mzimba is now at 37 percent in stunting prevalence, down from about 47, according to the 2016 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey report.
In a separate interview, Mzimba South agricultural extension development officer responsible for Champhira Extension Planning Area–EPA, Evance Gondwe, said attaining food security alone was not enough to grow the country’s nutrition levels.
“It is a start, but then Mzimba is one of the country’s big food producers and yet we had such high levels in stunting across the district. This is where we feel as a ministry that we have to promote food processing and utilisation—areas most communities still lack in,” he said.
Gondwe urged farming families to prioritise nurturing their households and not selling all farm produce, which he said was common in the country.
Said Gondwe: “There is no logic in maximising production only to nourish others who import from us while the farmer remains undernourished. We need to change that perception, and it has to begin at household level. People need to keep enough for themselves and their respective families before selling.”
The project targeted 68 000 beneficiaries in four T/As of Kampingo Sibande, Chindi, Khosolo and Mzikubola in the district.
Meanwhile, Mzimba District Council has vowed to continue with the implementation of the project, despite FUM’s tenure ending this month.