by Lorraine Anyango
Nutrition awareness shaped by sensitization done to nutrition champions is inspiring the use of locally available resource responses. This is evidenced again and again by varied methods being employed by champions in their advocacy obligation. For matters to improve, perspectives of waiting for resources must be deconstructed, and nutrition advocacy mainstreamed in their environments.
Bishop Wilson Omwa, one of the trained nutrition champions, turned his late mother’s mud house to serve as a breastfeeding corner for some 15 mothers who are part of his 150-membered church in the heart of Nyahera rural area in Kisumu.
In this safe space for mothers to feed their children with dignity while attending the Faith Church Kiboswa, he has put up toys for children including shakers simply made from used plastic water bottles with dried maize inside.
The balls are made of torn socks, there are also dolls with human names to not only play with but also to teach the women how to properly latch while breastfeeding their young ones.
Inside the room, there are materials with content on the importance of breastfeeding and also how to introduce alternative feeding once a child is six months. The room is also fitting with MUAK tapes to monitor the growth of the children.
Bishop Omwa works together with community health workers (CHWs) to educate the mothers as well as let them know the economic burden that malnutrition causes and low-cost interventions that can be adopted.
“To drive change in development, will have to do with the reduction of the cost of treating malnutrition by using less costly methods, to ensure that people are healthy.” Bishop Omwa says.
Bishop Omwa is among 45 Nutrition Champions trained in Kisumu County under the USAID-funded ‘Advancing Nutrition’ project, which is a flagship program being implemented in three counties in Kenya.
The USAID Advancing Nutrition, Head of Programs Tina Lloren accompanied by the Advancing Nutrition, Chief of Party Peter Milo paid a courtesy call to the breastfeeding corner in the village to witness how its influencing good nutrition in the community.
The team witnessed a demo kitchen garden installed next to the breastfeeding corner which is used to teach other members of the communities as well as the mothers the importance of African leafy vegetables as research indicates that most children had iron deficiency diets.
“The original concept was to have the champions advocate for nutrition in their day-to-day operations, and that is being implemented in Kisumu.” Mr. Peter Milo USAID Advancing Nutrition, chief of the party emphasized.
“The champions are people already doing some work and have a place to influence others, they bring the knowledge they get from the training to their environments.” He added.
Lloren and Milo witness a tapestry of alternatives in pushing the nutrition agenda. Joan Adeti a nutrition champion in Kisumu town showcased messages she crafted and is using to reach out to pregnant women as well as mothers with children under the age of two years.
“I teach them that it is crucially important to priorities exclusively breastfeeding their children even amidst other competing interests while showing them that it’s doable,” Adeti said.
Other champions who showcased what they are doing to further push nutrition were the ‘Awoucho Women Group’, a community-based organization that is growing, and adding value to African leafy vegetables while ensuring that they do not lose their nutrient by the time that they are consumed.