By Lorraine Anyango
In the Early Child Hood Centers (ECDds), in Kisumu County, the presence of Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tapes is a common occurrence now.
Further, weighing scales and height boards in the same centers is a key enhancer in monthly growth monitoring for the young ones and has also become a standard practice in the centers.
Even better, ECDs that have not been able to procure height boards have customized some and a number without weighing scales and are linking up with the nearest health facilities to ensure that growth monitoring is promoted.
This is further evidenced by the current data from the 2022 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) Key Indicators Report stating that the percentage of children under-fives who are stunted in Kisumu currently stands at 9% way down from 18%.
The data further indicates that nationally, 5% of children are wasted while 3% are overweight, in kisumu wasting is at 3% while underweight children are 3.5% of the population. The triple burden of malnutrition which includes stunting, and wasting underweight in Kisumu has continued to be addressed by the Multi-sectoral Nutrition (MSN) platform.
A spot check carried out by the MSN team found out that the management of the ECD centers has put efforts in place to provide a balanced diet for the children. Omena (Daga) has been incorporated into the children’s diet as it’s highly nutritious and readily available.
However, during a week-long monitoring and support supervision by the MSN Committee, the team noted that about 90 percent of the centers still need interventions to be able to provide fruit for the children.
Most school feeding programs are sustained by donations both in kind and in monetary terms from the parents who contribute as low as Ksh 100 per term.
The constitution of the MSN team is supported by the USAID Advancing Nutrition program which is currently being implemented in Kisumu, Kakamega, and Kitui counties.
The purpose of the support supervision was to assess the progress of nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific interventions as aligned with 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 team administered a tool that sought to gather information on MSN activities by different sectors, gaps in MSN implementation, nutrition status at Sub Counties and the ECDs (GMP), human resources issues per sector, stakeholder analysis as well as supplies.
Specifically, the team sought to confirm that Vitamin A supplementation which is administered twice a year, and deworming were taking place.
They also checked on growth monitoring and promotion asking whether weighing scales, height boards, and MUAC tapes were available.
The supervision process also looked into matters of capacity building of ECD teachers to monitor growth and whether food handlers in the ECDs were sensitized on nutrition matters and that they have valid health certificates.
The supervision follows a sensitization of the ECD managers to ensure that a nutritionist was included in the school’s board of management and that the same management was also sensitized on matters of nutrition.
Through the Advancing nutrition project, the ECD had earlier also been sensitized to have a centralized school feeding program and to set up an integrated kitchen garden using the new technologies that require less space to secure vegetables to be used in the school feeding programs, the Kitchen gardens were also to serve as demo sites for parents and members of the communities.
Some schools have set up fish ponds with the help of officers from the agricultural department who are also members of the MSN.
Advancing Nutrition has gone further to sensitive mother-to-mother support groups on agri-nutrition and value addition, farmers, as well as the fisher folk community, have been trained on production and value addition. Social protection activities have also been incorporated into the project.
The advocacy carried out by the project has been instrumental in influencing other partner organizations to support the implementation of nutrition intervention, some are now supporting ECD with meals for lunch and milk daily.