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Fighting malnutrition and poverty with one shot

Group photo

By Sunday Oyinloye

Mother of five, Yemi Joy is from Barangoni community, Bwari Area Council, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. The 37 year old woman has some health challenges that affected her two breasts; hence, she couldn’t breastfeed her last born. Sadly, the baby had malnutrition and before help could come, Joy lost her child.

Joy is one of the 30 women with malnourished children, physically challenged women and “poorest of the poor” being trained on the prevention and management of Severe Acute Malnutrition, and how to turn waste to wealth in Bwari Area Council.

The project is sponsored by European Union Agents for Citizen- Driven Transformation (EU-ACT) to alleviate poverty among vulnerable women in Bwari and Kwali Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory while the International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) is the implementing organization of the project

Training session

However, Joy is not the only woman with sad story to tell, a grandmother; Rabi Sule is not a happy woman. Reason? She lost her daughter to bandits in Sokoto State and now left to cater for her late daughter’s baby, Alimatu who is a year old but looks like a week old baby. Alimatu is suffering from Acute Severe Malnutrition. Rabi who could hardly meet her daily personal needs is saddled with the responsibility of looking after her malnourished grandchild.

Other women have painful stories to tell particularly concerning their malnourished children. Unfortunately, in a country with enormous resources, mothers still have to contend with their malnourished children when indeed what these children need to live a healthy life is Ready–to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), an energy-dense, mineral- and vitamin-enriched food specifically designed to treat Severe Acute Malnutrition. But, it is not available for their use.

Little wonder the women were excited at the take-off of the empowerment programme which began at Barangoni on Monday. At least, they are sure that at the end of the programme, they will be able to provide nutritional meals for their children and be in a position to take care of their families.

Yemi Joy

Lydia Aminu who is one of the 30 women told Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable that she was happy that EU-ACT brought the empowerment programme to her community stressing that she has gained a lot from the training, particularly, how to produce organic fertilizer.

Speaking in the same vein, the Deputy Women leader of Barangoni community, Vera Manasseh said the empowerment programme would go a long way in alleviating poverty in the community.

She lamented that Barangoni has many children who are malnourished adding that with the EU-ACT project, it’s a new dawn in the community.

“Many of our women have malnourished children due to ignorance and poverty. But with this training, we are optimistic that things we change for better for us and our children. We have been taught a lot of things, including how to convert wastes to wealth.” She said.

Speaking in the same vein, a physically challenged woman, Florence John said the empowerment programme would go a long way in making life more comfortable for her and the family.

The Executive Director of ISMPH, Moji Makanjuola represented by the Director of Programs, Solomon Dogo said the project was designed to help mothers whose children are malnourished so that they would be economically empowered to cater for their children and their households.

In his words: “ We have noticed that a lot children are suffering from malnutrition , the project aims at curbing malnutrition in the FCT by training and empowering women on how to produce organic fertilizer and other products so that they can have a means of survival, because we have noticed that one of the problems causing malnutrition is poverty

“Most of them do not have means to take care of the nutritional needs of their children, so we decided to train women whose children are malnourished so that they would be able to have lifesaving skills. The project is being funded by European Union Agents for Citizen- Driven Transformation.”

On sustainability, Dogo said “for the first phase, we are training 30, after this, we hope that the women through community leaders will train more women so that we have continuity and more women benefitting from the skills they have learnt here.

“But so far, the first batch is 30, subsequently more women will be trained through the community; we want to have the community own this project. That is why the Etsu of Bwari is involved; the local government Chairman and the Chief of Barangoni are also involved. We have met with all of them in order to ensure sustainability of the project.

The Etsu Bwari, Dr. Ibrahim Yaro JP represented by his Secretary, Amos Musa noted that the empowerment programme would go a long way in eradicating poverty in the area stressing that the women will now be able to take proper care of their malnourished children and their households.

He commended European Union Agents for Citizen- Driven Transformation for funding the project and ISMPH for implementing it.

Speaking in the same vein, the Chief of Barangoni, Danlami Nana said his people are predominantly farmers. According to him, training women in his village on how to produce organic fertilizer would enable the farming community have bumper harvests and improve the income of the people.

The Programs Officer of ISMPH in charge of the project, Bukola Smith told Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable that the women would be assisted to get market for their products through media exposure, adding that they would  eventually be happy mothers because, they will  have the resources to take care of their malnourished  children.

Little wonder, despite their agonies, the women are excited about the empowerment project; looking at the future with optimism and probably praying that very soon, they will not be counted among the poor in Bwari Area Council again.

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