By Lorraine Anyango
About 20 nutrition champions drawn from the seven sub counties are attending a training aimed at equipping them with skills to raise awareness as well as change perceptions among the residents of Kisumu concerning nutrition.
The champions are also being sensitized to their roles, the nutrition situation, and an enabling policy environment in the county.
These steps are a build-up from the Mou’s signed between several ministries on the actualization of a multisectoral approach towards solving the malnutrition challenges in Kisumu County.
While officiating the training, Mr. Gilchrist Owuor Okuom, the Executive County member, for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock, and Fisheries called on the nutrition champions to ensure that they change the nutrition narrative because of the misconceptions that exist.
“Children are fed on soup as with Ugali while adults consume the fish, the ways we prepare food also must be done in a way that nutrients are not lost.” He spoke.
He also called upon the champions to play a role in producing food, by growing nutritious food so that they change perceptions by modeling the right ways to handle food.
“Lead from the front, gradually change our villages, sensitize our people on which are the proper foods to consume and which ones are not beneficial.” He added.
He said it was important to help people free the huge amount of money they spend on medication by ensuring that they consume a proper diet by changing their mindsets towards certain foods.
Dr. Paul Omanga, Chief Officer of Agriculture and irrigation said that it was important for the champions to clearly understand their role.
“When African children grow their food and eat well, they will develop, tell our people what to eat and how to eat it, let them grow micro gardens and eventually we measure our performance with how many people will have grown the gardens. Dr. Omaga Said.
Mrs. Munira Patel one of the Nutrition champions in Kisumu pointed out that childhood obesity is still a problem in Kisumu County and it’s fueled by a wrong belief that babies with bigger girths are healthier.
She said they are already working with 64 Early Child hood schools (ECDs) that have set up kitchen gardens within their institutions where they are cultivating various vegetables and fruits to improve the children’s nutrition.
“Why are we forsaking our organic foods and settling for organically modified food (GMO), we need to teach our residents the advantages of good nutrition.
The champions who are under the patronage of Kisumu’s first lady Mama Dorothy Nyong’o were also charged with the responsibility of maintaining the involvement of decision makers and the public profile in decision making around resource allocation for nutrition interventions in the county. Nutrition champion reports to multi-sectoral nutrition advisory committee through quarterly updates. This is chaired by the first lady.
The participants were braised with nutrition policies and will also be receiving regular updates on nutrition and are expected to develop advocacy messages on nutrition, they will be linked to events and platforms to advance their role.
The training put together with Save the Children Organization with support from USAID also ensured that the champions understand how to communicate evidence-based nutrition advocacy messages to all levels of operations.
The participants got to understand the different champions and the role they are expected to contribute toward raising awareness and changing negative attitudes and behaviors related to nutrition and helping foster collaboration among actors that foster good nutrition
As the training comes to a close the participants are expected to develop work plans and agree on a monitor plan.