Images: Sébastien Duijndam and Guy Calaf for Action Against Hunger
Sowing The Seeds To Solving Malnutrition
Spring is the time of year when everything in nature is changing and promising new life and new hope. Today, we are sharing an exciting new project in Nigeria encouraging mothers to grow nutritious food.
Apr 16 2019
In Nigeria, many pregnant women don’t have access to nutritious food and therefore, don’t get enough vitamins and minerals. This has a serious impact on both the mother and unborn child’s health and wellbeing. The difficulty of not only promoting healthy eating but also sourcing nutritious food provided the starting blocks for an exciting new project in Yobe state in North-eastern Nigeria.
Since 2017, our team in Nigeria have been piloting a programme that supports vegetable gardening among pregnant and breastfeeding women and mothers with children under 5 years old.
Conflict and hunger are closely linked in the region, as families have been forced to live in extremely harsh conditions or flee violence, having a big impact on access to sufficient nutritious food. Before being able to put this idea into practice, our staff had to consider the delicate context. We had to make sure that this project would not cause divisions or increase tensions between host communities and refugees. Families like Maria Adamu’s have been hugely impacted by conflict. With 14 family members to feed, Maria struggled to make ends meet, “I was not able to give my children a nutritious meal as we struggled to provide for the household.” They have made the tough decision of staying in the family home despite constant conflict.
Maria lives near one of the 12 health centres trailing this new integrated approach. She has loved having the opportunity to grow and look after her garden. Mother’s like Maria Adamu have received packs of seeds, soil and gardening tools. “Once I got the seeds, on 17th September 2018, I could not wait to plant them in my garden”. Maria can now grow the nutritious food she lacked during her pregnancy and sell some of the extra produce to make money for her family.
Once the crops are ready to eat, our team holds cooking sessions on how best to cook the vegetables to maintain their nutritional value, look after crops and which vegetables are the most important for a varied and nutritious diet. Maria shares her enthusiasm for the project, saying “it was so exciting because we started eating the vegetables just 15 days after planting the seeds. I enjoy cooking the harvested Amaranthus and Spinach with soup as a garnish for jollof rice and Noodles. Now my family enjoy eating a healthy diet!” Maria has also managed to turn her vegetable garden into a small business and hopes to buy a sowing machine with her savings.
This is just one example of innovation in our projects around the world, helping children to grow up healthy and strong. In 2017 alone we conducted 52 research projects to evaluate and learn about how we can treat malnutrition more effectively. Innovation is one of our key principles and it is often what creates new opportunities in our programmes.
This spring we are celebrating the innovation that is helping mothers like Maria to grow the solution to fighting malnutrition in her community.
Help us continue to save children's lives in Nigeria and around the world