CENTRAL Province minister Sydney Mushanga says about five per cent of children in Kapiri Mposhi are severely undernourished.
And Jesus Cares Ministries has launched an Integrated Nutrition and Food Security Intervention in Kapiri Mposhi.
Speaking during the launch of the Jesus Cares Ministries project aimed at scaling up nutrition through sustainable food production using a community-driven initiative, Mushanga disclosed that an estimated 43 per cent of children in Kapiri Mposhi suffered from stunting and approximately five per cent were affected by severe malnutrition.
He explained that the zero to two-year age group was critical because it was the period during which the foundation of the healthy intellectual and physical development of a child was laid.
“The most recent Zambia Demographic and Health Survey [2013 to 2014] reported that at national level, stunting among under-five children is at 40 per cent, wasting at six per cent and underweight at 15 per cent. Furthermore, locally, it is estimated that 43 per cent of children in Kapiri Mposhi district suffer from stunting and approximately five per cent are affected by severe malnutrition,” Mushanga explained.
“From a nutritional point of view, the zero to two-year age group is particularly critical as this is the age during which the foundation is laid for healthy intellectual and physical development. Undernourishment and malnutrition during this phase of life are not only responsible for an increased susceptibility to illness and higher infant mortality rates in early years, but often have a lifelong impact manifesting itself in poor intellectual and physical capacity. Their opportunities in life are greatly reduced and this affects the future earning power of the whole country; we end up with non-productive adults.”
He said the high levels of malnutrition could not be allowed to continue. “Fellow Zambians, these figure and the state of affairs is saddening and the government will not allow the situation to go on like this. Therefore, the Zambian government has been making efforts in trying to address this problem through various interventions aimed at diversifying the agriculture sector to support nutrition and improving maternal and child health programmes,” Mushanga said.
He observed that the government alone could not eradicate malnutrition, hence the need to adopt a multi-sectoral approach when implementing intervention measures.
“The government of Zambia recognises the urgent need to scale up effective, evidence based interventions to reduce under-nutrition, especially among children and their mothers during the first 1, 000 days period from conception to a child’s second birthday. This period is the only window of opportunity that exists to curb the effects of nutrition, which may be irreversible after this window has passed. For the country to succeed in reducing malnutrition levels in the country, we need more districts to get involved in this programme, which also calls for a multi-sectoral approach,” said Mushanga, who is also Bwacha PF member of parliament.
“Therefore, a project like this one by Jesus Cares Ministries must be welcomed, appreciated and fully supported. This project will complement the government’s efforts in tackling this problem.”
National Food and Nutrition Commission coordinator for scaling up nutrition Freddie Mubanga said there was need to prioritise multi-sector and synergistic efforts aimed at promoting the 1, 000 most critical days in preventing stunting in children who are under two years of age.
“Beyond this period, if growth faltering is not corrected, then permanent damage is done,” Mubanga said.
He, however, noted that Zambia had recorded progress towards addressing malnutrition.
“[Scaling Up Nutrition] messages on stunting and the feasibility of prevention are being accepted at local and village levels. The notion of good nutrition and care throughout the first 1, 000-day window is also being internalised,” explained Mubanga.
“Notable mothers and care givers are becoming familiar with good feeding practices in terms of quality, frequency and diversity, and can explain what good health care means in practical terms for their families.”
Meanwhile, Jesus Cares Ministries Kapiri Mposhi project manager Mutale Mwamba said the Integrated Nutrition and Food Security Interventions project, which was being funded by the German Federal Ministry and Kindernothilfe [KNH], would reach out to 5,000 pregnant and lactating mothers as well as 10,000 children under five, among other target beneficiaries.
“The project will run from 2016 to 2021 and will work in two districts; namely Kapiri Mposhi and Mporokoso. In Kapiri Mposhi, the catchment communities are Luanshimba, Kakulu, Mulungushi University and St Paul’s while in Mporokoso, the catchment communities are Chitoshi, Kapalu, Vincent Bulaya and Mukupa Kaoma,” said Mwamba.
“It is envisaged that after five years, 5,000 pregnant and lactating mothers will improve their diet, 10, 000 children under five years will improve their diet, 2,500 households through nutrition women groups will have improved livelihoods through crops and small livestock production, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship while 2, 000 farmers will be able to apply conservation farming methods.”