BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
HUMANITARIAN agency, Save the Children, has embarked on infant and young children feeding awareness campaigns in famine-ravaged Binga district, Matabeleland North province to reduce stunting.
The programme is part of Save the Children’s ongoing humanitarian aid programme where about 4 000 mostly vulnerable community members from 947 households are each receiving US$9 monthly to purchase food items to prevent hunger-related deaths owing to drought.
Binga has not been spared the harsh effects of the El Nino-induced drought that swept across the country, leaving over five million people facing starvation, according government and aid agencies.
Save the Children health and nutrition manager Mthulisi Dube said it has roped in traditional leaders to develop community rules on infant and young children feeding to reduce stunting, as well as encourage nutrition behaviour change among communities under the infant and child-feeding educational programmes.
“Traditional leaders will continue to be engaged to share information on gender and culture in infant and young children feeding and promote positive infant feeding at household level. The traditional leaders have positively influenced uptake of growth monitoring and vitamin A supplementation in their respective communities,” Dube told journalists during a tour to one of its programme sites in Chinonge ward in Binga district on Wednesday.
Save the Children is implementing the programme in Binga’s worst drought-affected areas including Chinonge, Ngani, Kariangwe, Siachilaba and Simatelele.
“The traditional leaders will also disseminate important information and develop community rules that encourage male participation in infant and young children feeding programme and discourage neglect. We also have trained a number to be village health workers to provide comprehensive and effective nutrition counselling to mothers. This has resulted in Binga recording the highest vitamin A supplementation and growth monitoring in the country,” Dube noted.
“In addition, 24 830 people from Binga district have indirectly benefited from improved feeding and care practices for mothers, infants and children under two years, improved quality and delivery of maternal, infant and child nutrition services and increased access to maternal, infant and child nutrition and agricultural services.”
The programme is being implemented with assistance from the district administrator Lydia Banda-Ndete’s office which provides the profiling of the most vulnerable communities in the underdeveloped district. Banda-Ndete on Tuesday confirmed the district has been hard hit by the climatic change-induced drought.