A father's group dedicated to fighting hunger in Yobe State, Nigeria.

Fathers unite in the fight against hunger

Our innovative programme in Yobe State, Nigeria, is bringing dads together to improve health and wellbeing in their communities.

By Action Against Hunger

Jun 11 2019

In Northeast Nigeria, women often take the main responsibility for taking care of children – with men normally not getting involved.

To break down these cultural barriers, Action Against Hunger, supported by DFID, has introduced a father’s group initiative for thousands of men across the region.

The programme seeks out fathers of children aged 0-23 months and encourages them to learn more about nutrition. The meetings also focus on what more men can do to improve the health of their wives and children.

The fathers' group in Yobe State, Nigeria, recite an oath to end hunger in their community.

At the start of each meeting, the group normally recites an oath:

“We promise that every one of us is going to construct a tippy-tap in our household and those that have no latrine will build one for members of our household.

“We will not allow diseases related with poor sanitation to affect us and our neighbours or allow malnutrition to affect our children and our neighbours – so help us God.”

Protecting his community

It was at one of the group’s meetings that Hassan Mamman from Yobe State made a commitment that no child in his community will become malnourished.

Rummaging through his bag, Hassan brings out a colour-coded bracelet called a mid-upper arm circumference band (MUAC band).

Hassan, a member of a father's group fighting to end hunger in Yobe State, Nigeria.

“The tape is very easy to use,” he says. “It’s wrapped around the mid upper-arm like a bracelet, and the colour codes – red, yellow and green – help you detect malnutrition.”

Hassan began his mission in his household, but then started to help his neighbours and the wider community.

“I went from house-to-house and eventually found a child suffering from malnutrition after measuring them,” he says.

Hassan then referred the child to a local Action Against Hunger-supported health facility.

He also helped to educate the child’s parents about the importance of a good diet after breast milk is no longer enough to meet their nutritional needs.

Rather than just sticking to one type of food, he taught them about the importance of varying the family’s diet and gave them a porridge recipe of ground millet, soya beans and groundnut.

A month later, the child was out of danger as his MUAC band reading was green.

Taking action

Idris Yusuf, also from Yobe State, had heard about malnutrition before joining the fathers group – he just never really knew what it was.

Finally understanding the threat, he vowed to protect his family. He went home and wrapped a MUAC band around his son Ahmed’s arm. He was surprised to see the band read red, meaning Ahmed was severely malnourished.

Understanding the seriousness of the situation, he quickly took Ahmed to a local Action Against Hunger stabilisation unit centre where he was admitted to receive treatment. He is now healthy again.

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