My work involves coordinating activities in nutrition centres around Guidimakha in order to combat severe acute malnutrition in the region. I prepare and undertake training modules for health agents and personnel who work in the region and monitor new arrivals to all of the in-patient and out-patient treatment centres which ACF supports. I also write reports and manage the stocks of medicines and hygiene goods in pharmacies in the region.
I have been working for ACF since March 2008. I started as a nutrition assistant at the base in Kaédi, working on an Information, Education and Communication project which was financed by UNICEF (March 2008 to January 2009). Since then I have been based at Sélibaby.
The region of Guidimakha is the poorest region of Mauritania with 74.8% of families being classified as being poor. The prevalence of poverty is due to the mass migration of young people. This trend has led to a drain of knowledge, which, coupled with an inadequate supply of labour, has restricted regional development. The injection of some cash has led to the development of profound inequalities of wealth within the population resulting in more people being forced to move.
The rates of illiteracy are also very high in the region (more than 65%) with women having the highest rate of illiteracy.
A recent survey indicated the following rates of malnutrition for children under 5 in the region:
The direct causes of malnutrition in the region can be attributed to non-exclusive breastfeeding, the premature weaning of children, inadequate dietary diversity and the lack of knowledge about malnutrition. Those in households at most risk from Severe Acute Malnutrition also show a general ignorance of the importance of vaccinations, household hygiene and safe drinking water.
The most significant achievement of my team has been the training of health agents and workers in the region on the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition. When we started our projects nearly all of the health agents with whom we worked knew nothing about malnutrition. Another achievement has been the sensitisation of women on psycho-social care practices at the community level.
From a personal perspective, I enjoy going to work everyday to improve my technical knowledge and skills. However, above all else, I am motivated by the benefits that training has on those who are trained by ACF. Prior to the establishment of the mission, people in the region were very ignorant of the scourge of malnutrition. Since being here, I have witnessed a marked improvement in technical knowledge and skills in the field of malnutrition both in the standard of treatment and in the awareness of malnutrition at a community level.