End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana

by Self-Help International
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End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
End Malnutrition for 600 Children in Ghana
Cultivating orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Cultivating orange-fleshed sweet potato.

Since 2018, the Self-Help International Women’s Empowerment Program has supported rice farmers in Adankwame, Ghana to improve their production practices so they can increase their crop yields. Through the program, the farmers are able to access micro-credit loans on time, buy inputs at relatively cheaper cost, and plant in time to catch the early rains.

With increased yields and profits, the women are able to afford nutritious food for their families, pay school fees and hospital bills, and provide for other household needs. They live happily with their families.

The increased rice production resulted in high volumes of rice husks that the farmers didn’t immediately need, so the rice millers resorted to burning the husks. This resulted in environmental pollution. Thick smoke could be seen kilometers away. Self-Help worked with producers to find another use for the rice husks, which cleared the pollution caused from burning them. The solution to this problem also helped solve another problem Self-Help was facing: improving orange-fleshed sweet potato cultivation.

In 2018, Self-Help also started a program to support pregnant and lactating mothers, the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program. The program provides postnatal counseling and guidance on how to grow and consume nutrient rich crops like orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) and quality protein maize (QPM), a high protein maize variety. 

OFSP was a relatively new crop for the women in the program to cultivate and consume. With education and training, the mothers in the program adapted and many adopted the crop. In the major rainy season of 2019, 40 out of 80 women planted OFSP, but unfortunately many of the women lost about 60% of their crops to millipede infestations. This lowered their interest in OFSP cultivation. Controlling millipedes in the soil using chemicals was costly, and the women could not afford the necessary products. 

The Self-Help agriculture and nutrition teams worked together and came up with a compost made of rice husk and poultry droppings that supports OFSP cultivation very well. The yield obtained in 2020 using the compost was good, restoring the confidence of the women to go back into OFSP cultivation and consumption. The compost is a boost for container gardening as well. Empty cans, which for years have served as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, are becoming fertile grounds for the production of nutrient rich crops. With increased cultivation and consumption of OFSP and improved access to nutritious foods, Self-Help can continue to work with mothers to ensure that their children will be stronger and healthier.

Orange-fleshed sweet potato.
Orange-fleshed sweet potato.
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Afia feeding her daughter porridge.
Afia feeding her daughter porridge.

Good nutrition plays a crucial role in a person’s life and serves as an important tool in preventing numerous diseases. It is imperative that children receive the nutrients they need for their growth and brain development, especially in the first 1,000 days of their lives. This critical stage in development can affect children throughout their entire lives.

Parents in the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program at Self-Help International are very concerned about the growth and development of their children. Some parents only feed their children staple foods like cassava or yams (mainly carbohydrates) which don’t provide adequate protein. As a result, their children experience protein energy malnutrition (PEM). Self-Help is working with mothers in two communities in Ghana - Beposo and Kukubuso - to ensure mothers have access to quality protein maize (QPM) for their families’ porridge, animal protein from eggs, and the knowledge to take care of themselves and their babies.

Afia is a 45-year-old mother of six living in the village of Beposo who has partnered with GHFGHC. According to Afia, she ate mostly carbohydrates prior to connecting with the GHFGHC program. The program and Self-Help’s staff nutritionists helped to reshape her choice of food to incorporate vegetables and forms of protein into her diet. She said she was not prioritizing eating fruits and vegetables because she did not know that they  contain nutrients that are important to the body. 

“The staff’s nutrition counseling has taught me that I need to add protein, fruits, and vegetables to my diet,” Afia shared. 

Madam Afia sees her daughter’s growth and development and attributes that to the eggs and the protein-rich porridge she fed her as a baby. She noted that the growth of her youngest child compared to her previous children has been different.

“[My daughter] is growing healthier and I haven’t incurred the same hospital bills. My older children used to fall sick when they were younger, but [my youngest daughter’s] case has been different - she is almost two years old and we have never been to the hospital,” Afia said.

“My daughter likes eggs and tom brown (a porridge that consists of QPM and peanuts roasted and milled together),” Afia said. “Some children only eat egg yolks and reject the [egg white], while others only like the [egg white]; but my daughter eats both the yolk and the [egg white].”

Afia said that through the program, she has learned how to diversify the weaning food she is giving to her youngest daughter by incorporating more nutrient-rich ingredients.

“I have moved on from preparing porridge with only corn and sugar to preparing more nutrient rich porridges with ingredients like corn, sugar, powdered fish, soya beans, groundnut paste or whole egg.” 

Through nutrition education, mothers like Afia are learning how to implement changes in their families’ diets that will have lasting effects on their children as they grow and develop.

Afia's daughter loves eggs!
Afia's daughter loves eggs!
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Ayishetu prepping the maize for the tom brown.
Ayishetu prepping the maize for the tom brown.

Wednesday, July 15 is GlobalGiving’s July Bonus Day! From 9:00 AM EST to 11:59 PM EST (8:00 AM CT-10:59 PM CT), GlobalGiving will be offering a percentage match on gifts over $100 (or until matching funds run out). You can support your favorite Self-Help International project by making a gift here! Click here for the full terms and conditions and to see the gift amounts and matching percentages.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), proper infant nutrition is fundamental to a child’s developmental health. Feeding children correctly in the first two years of their lives is particularly important because of nutrition’s role in lowering morbidity and mortality, reducing the lifetime risk of chronic disease, and promoting healthy mental and physical development.

Although every infant and child has the right to good nutrition under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, in many countries less than a fourth of infants have access to the required dietary diversity and feeding frequency. Inappropriate feeding practices contribute up to a third of all cases of child malnutrition.

Self-Help International’s Promoting Good Nutrition Program (PGN) team facilitates the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program, which is teaching mothers in rural Ghana the importance of good nutrition through nutrition education and food demonstrations. Self-Help’s team teaches the mothers about how some foods are more nutritious than others and helps them figure out healthy food options and recipes.

As part of Self-Help’s sustainability approach to ensure community ownership, partnering mothers participate fully in all of the activities. For example, mothers in GHFGHC are involved in the preparation of a food supplement called tom brown (a porridge that consists of Quality Protein Maize (QPM) and peanuts roasted and milled together). Pregnant and lactating women receive 700g of the tom brown every week. The tom brown is supposed to last mothers and infants an entire week, but many of the mothers end up using the tom brown for their families. This means the tom brown only ends up lasting a day or two.

One of the mothers partnering with GHFGHC, Ayishetu, experienced this challenge in her household.

Ayishetu confessed that her tom brown portion was not only feeding her infant in the program - it was also feeding his siblings. As a result, the 700g of tom brown lasted for a day in her house. She said her kids love the tom brown, and she decided to explore ways that she could have enough of the tom brown in her house. 

Luckily, Ayishetu already had some QPM, so she only needed to purchase some peanuts from the market. Because of the training Ayishetu received on preparing tom brown and the help of Self-Help’s PGN team, Ayishetu had the knowledge and skills she needed to prepare the tom brown in her house to feed her family.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Ayishetu started giving out the tom brown to other people in her community of Kukuboso because the mandated lockdown in Ghana meant that people didn’t have enough at home to eat. Price increases at the market due to the quarantine took a toll on Ayishetu’s family budget, and she realized she could increase her income by selling the tom brown. 

“I now sell some of the tom brown to other people in Kukuboso whose families have developed a taste for it, and I’m able to generate an alternative income,” Ayishetu said.

Ayishetu making the tom brown.
Ayishetu making the tom brown.
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Mary getting a drink during the school day!
Mary getting a drink during the school day!

In 2019, Self-Help International provided breakfast for over 800 students from ten schools in rural Ghana, resulting in increased school enrollment and attendance. 

As more children go to school, other challenges emerge including: a lack of access to water, latrines, and trash containers. Nkwakrom, one of the rural communities with a Self-Help School Feeding Program, has boreholes (pumps to get water from the ground) supplying safe drinking water; however, the boreholes are located several meters from the primary school. 

Young children like Mary (pictured) couldn’t make the trek to fetch water, especially during school hours. Many children, including Mary, stayed dehydrated and had nowhere to wash their hands after visiting the toilet. Diarrhea, cholera and worm infestations are some of the issues that can result from lack of access to clean water.  

In response to this challenge, Self-Help Ghana’s nutrition team supplied all ten schools participating in the School Feeding Program with barrels to hold large amounts of clean water and outfitted the barrels with spigots, towels, and soap. 

The Self-Help nutrition team realised that the majority of the kids at school (not only those in the School Feeding Program) didn’t know how to properly wash their hands, especially under running water. Self-Help facilitated hand-washing trainings for all of the students at the school to teach them how to effectively wash their hands. This initiative was timely considering that the hand-washing training will not only improve the children’s health at school, it also will go a long way to keep them healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This intervention has brought relief to children like Mary. They now have access to drinking water any time during school hours and don’t have to risk missing classes. They are also able to wash their hands each time they use the bathroom and before and after eating.

Mary wants to become a nurse and take care of the sick in her community, and having access to drinking water and proper sanitation at school is the first step to keeping Mary’s dream alive.

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Alima and her child.
Alima and her child.

Nutrition plays a key role in the development of individuals, families, communities, and the nation of Ghana as a whole. The United Nations’ second Sustainable Development Goal calls for the total elimination of hunger and all forms of malnutrition across all ages. Poverty has rendered a great number of people food insecure, which has caused inadequate dietary intake, diseases, and malnutrition.

Self-Help International is working to tackle this development goal by addressing infant malnutrition through the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program. 

Alima feels that Self-Help’s GHFGHC program has benefited her entire family. Alima is not a resident of the village of Kukubuso where Self-Help has a GHFGHC group, but she attends the mosque in the community every Friday. In 2019, she was one of the women who enrolled in the GHFGHC program in Kukubuso. Although she has to walk over 5 km (over 3 mi) to Kukubuso on Tuesdays to attend the meetings, the distance does not prevent her from attending. 

According to Alima, she is motivated to come to the meeting because of the counseling and the food supplements she receives weekly. She said that she and her husband could not afford to give her child eggs, so she sees the program as a means to ensure that her children have access to good nutrition. 

“The supplement I receive from Self-Help is able to provide breakfast for my family every two days,” Alima said. “My involvement with Self-Help has helped me learn how to provide a nutritional weaning diet for my child using locally available foods, and I’m able to prepare them for my family. This has really eased the burden of providing food for the family in the morning and has also helped improve our standard of living.”

Good nutrition is an important part of living a healthy life, and food choices impact people’s health and how they feel today, tomorrow, and long into the future.

“With the help of Self-Help, my family is able to get adequate nutrients in our diet,” Alima said.

Alima shared that every aspect of her life has seen a positive change as a result from the nutrition education she is getting from Self-Help’s nutrition staff. Alima is one of the mothers who is able to provide helpful answers to questions asked during nutrition counseling sessions - an indication that she has learned something from her time with the program.

Alima has moved from thinking that every food is merely food to adopting a more conscious thought process for selecting what she feeds herself and her family. Alima gratefully thanked Self-Help for helping her family and her enjoy good, nutritious meals. 

 

Love to support Self-Help International? Then make sure to participate in the 2020 Girl Fund from Mar. 6-13 and vote for Self-Help's Teen Girls Club with a $10 donation! Terms, conditions, and details can be found here, and keep your eye out for more information in the next couple of weeks!

Mothers with egg supplements.
Mothers with egg supplements.
Alima & other mothers in Kukubuso GHFGHC program.
Alima & other mothers in Kukubuso GHFGHC program.
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Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, Iowa United States
$47,520 raised of $55,000 goal
 
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