By Lorraine Anyango.
Nutrition in Kisumu County must change fundamentally.
It contributes to five percent of the growth domestic profit (GDP) and to secure this gain, the county is harnessing opportunities within the Early Childhood Development (ECD) environs.
Children’s growth is now being monitored monthly within schools, most of the ECDs are now equipped with weighing scales and height boards, and MUAC tapes, while those without are being linked to nearby health facilities to enable them to get data on the growth rates among the children.
An ongoing nutrition assessment in the sub-counties, conducted by the Multi Sectoral Nutrition (MSN) team and supported by USAID through a program dubbed Advance Nutrition, being implemented by Save the Children International revealed that ECD has started growing Kitchen gardens while some are putting up fish ponds.
“All the vegetables and fish harvested must be consumed with the children and not taken away by the teachers.” Mrs. Rael Mwando Kisumu’s County Nutrition coordinator directed.
Apart from growing gardens and putting up fish ponds, food being consumed by children is slowly changing, individuals, as well as organizations, are supporting the feeding program, in one school a business donates eggs twice a week, while in another a family cooks and supplies food to the children.
To improve nutrition further, the assessment seeks to find out whether the ECD teachers and the board of management (BOM) are being sensitized to the importance of adherence to nutrition in the school feeding programs.
In Nyakach, there are 147 ECDs attached to primary schools while 3 stand alone. In this area, the children are given porridge at ten in the morning. The county supports the feeding by supplementing rice and cooking oil, the parents support by providing the rest.
Kisumu East sub-county has 150 ECDs, 100 of these schools are private, and only 12 schools have BOMs that have been sensitized on nutrition, in these areas, there are daily health checks in the morning happening in schools.
The schools are to adopt a monitoring card whose data will be used to inform the decision on what needs strengthening in a particular area.
Apart from sensitization on what the children should be consuming in schools, recommendations from the team supervising encourage the management of ECDs to ensure that those preparing food for the children are qualified and have the required certificates including the food handlers certificates.
The purpose of this supervision is to assess the progress of nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific interventions as aligned in the MSN joint work plan and to assess the level of multisectoral nutrition implementation as well as coordination of strength for the MSN players.
The supervision outcome is expected to avail information on MSN activities by different sectors, bring out gaps in MSN implementation, and bring out nutrition status at Sub Counties and the ECDs growth monitoring parameters.
The supervision will also look for human resources issues per sector, check out stakeholder analysis, Supplies/Inputs, and targeting criteria used for vulnerable populations, and confirm the availability of data.
The checklist is specific to activities put down in a work plan to ensure that nutrition is streamlined to departments. In health, it seeks to establish whether Vitamin A supplementation and deworming are happening in the ECDs.
It also seeks to find out whether growth monitoring and promotion are happening and whether weighing scales, height boards and MUAC tapes are available in schools. Capacity building of ECD teachers, food handlers, and farmers on nutrition issues as well as sensitization of BOMs and parents on nutrition issues is carried out.
Under social protection, it seeks to answer whether the social protection interventions are used for dietary purposes and whether training of groups on key nutrition issues has been undertaken.
Under education, the checklist questions whether school feeding programs are a centralized and specific variety of food the schools offer. Whether growth monitoring and promotion and data utilization are happening in the ECDs, it seeks to know the involvement of a nutritionist in the BOMs.
Under agriculture, it interrogates the availability of integrated kitchen gardens in hospitals, ECDs, and community level and checks on whether mothers’ support groups on Agri-nutrition and value addition have been sensitized and that farmers and fisher folk are trained on production and value addition.
This bi-annual supervision is relying on the MSN tool developed by the MSN team.