By Lorraine Anyango.
For the very first time, a theme on nutrition was the driver of the 2023 Kisumu County Early Childhood Development (ECD) creative activities festival intending to effect behavior change and eradicate malnutrition.
Children under the age of five enthusiastically took to the stage at Mama Grace Onyango Social Hall, confidently showcasing their pieces categorized as choral verses in Swahili and English languages, African and Western styles singing games, Solo verses, and special categories, creative dance, instrumental, oriental sans fashion show all woven around ‘Good Nutrition, Good Health theme.
This theme was influenced by two years of advocacy on nutrition through the USAID Advancing Nutrition program that birthed the setting up of a Muti Sectoral Nutrition (MSN) coordinating platform MSN comprises County departments of Health, Education, Water, Agriculture, Social protection, the academia, and partners. The multi-sectoral nutrition interventions are aimed at having a malnutrition-free Kisumu County.
The ECD directorate held the festivals anchored on advocacy on health and nutrition from June to August 2023. The finals of the festival was graced by County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Education Mr. John Awiti and CECM Water and Environment Maryline Agwa.
The festivals were in alignment with the National Pre-Primary Education Policy, 2017 emphasizes the School Health Policy (2009) that calls for the integration of health and nutrition in Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE).
As they recited poems confessing a love for nutritive foods, and a friendship with fruits the objective of the festival was met as they communicated, the importance of agricultural interventions like conical/kitchen gardens in schools for the sustainability of the school feeding program.
The children drawn from the seven sub-counties stressed on stress on the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration to fight all forms of malnutrition. They also sensitized the audience on the importance of optimum nutrition.
While giving the keynote address, Mr. Awiti said that the activities didn’t just serve to identify and nurture the talents of children but also allowed learning nutrition early enough in life.
“This means our future generations will be healthy, as our children today are well schooled in matters of nutrition.” Mr Awiti added.
The ECD director Wilkister Odora said that the festival provided an opportunity for children to understand their environment as well as use materials from their very environment.
“This festival has enabled our young learners to advocate for the importance of nutrition to the entire community in turn impact knowledge to people around them and hence be able to release their full potential.” She added.
The festival was also graced by Sub-County nutrition and agri-nutrition coordinators nutrition champions and partners who supported the event.
Under the special fork song category, Lutheran ECD emerged as the winner scoring 85%, the special category was won by Maseno School for the Deaf with their fashion show presentation. Under the special creative dance, Maseno School for the Deaf also were winners scoring 86% while Senior Chief Onuga ECD took the second position with 84%.
St. Martin Deporres ECD emerged as a winner under the Kwahili choral verse, with a score of 84% while the special dance category was victory clinched by Lutheran Special School ECD which had 84 %. Under the Western dancer’s category, the winner was Mwanzu Wetu with 87% followed by Christ Church Pefa with 83% and Bright Kids.
Gloria Amondi from Vibrant ECD was the best in Swahili Sollo verse with a score of 87%, the second was Davina Daisy from Muhoroni with an 86% score while the position went to Sherline Bernice with 85%, Argyl Tyrell was fourth with 84% Esther Awour was fifth with 83%, Brandley Johns scored 82% coming in at the sixth position while Rose Nataly Akinyi scored 81%.
Victory Christian School ECD topped the English choral verse with 87%, Zemira Joy CED was second with 86% while Barkolwa mixed ECD had 85% getting the third position. Wema Academy had 84%, St Luke School got 83%, Karanda High had 82%, St Gabriel’s 82%, and Sango Buru scored 81%.
The event was jointly sponsored by USAID Advancing Nutrition, SOS Children Village, Bioversity international – CIAT and Kidogo early years.