How Gikuriro trained adoption of neglected food to eliminate malnutrition in Kayonza

Mukantwari Valentine is a 39 year old and a mother for nine (9) children, three of whom are under five years. Mukantwari is married to Munyaruyenzi Etienne and this family of eleven lives in Murori village, Migera cell, Mwiri sector in Kayonza district.

Mukantwari and Munyaruyenzi failed to forecast the family size and this resulted in an early pregnancy for she conceived the 9th child when her 8th child (Uwimpuhwe) was seven months old.

After the health center confirmed her 9th pregnancy, Mukantwari stopped breastfeeding her seven month old baby. The situation caused Uwimpuhwe to become malnourished because her mother was not educated on preparing nutrient food to wean a child deprived of breast milk.

“When I conceived, I stopped breastfeeding my child and I found it hard to find a replacement to breast milk and I thought it would be expensive since my knowledge in child nutrition was inadequate” Mukantwari said.

Before Gikuriro, vegetables were portrayed as a diet for the poorest

“I used to feed my young daughter the same food as that of adults and when she was 13 months, her nutrition status worsened. Community Health Workers (CHWs) referred me to Nyakabungo Health Center for counseling and remedy. The health center failed to receive many parents seeking the same services. The nutritionist advised me to join Gikuriro Village Nutrition School (VNS) because it was active in our village Murori. When I joined VNS activities, my daughter weighed only seven Kgs but after twelve days in VNS, she gained one 1 kg and gained the normal weight for children of her age. CHWs were amazed to see my daughter move from severe acute malnutrition to a normal child.” Mukantwari added.

Beyond Gikuriro program, Mukantwari and Munyaruyenzi never used vegetables because they were considered a cheap food for the poor and they thought that they caused diarrhea.

“Vegetables were considered as food to be consumed during a food crisis or food for the poor but these vegetables we used to reject are the ones which saved life of our daughter from malnutrition.” Munyaruyenzi said.

Mukantwari supported that “I used to feed my daughter with potatoes, cassava and beans because they are available and I knew that they bring energy. Gikuriro program team advised us never to forget vegetables in family diet for children”

After learning how to prepare a balanced diet for children, Mukantwari bought a small saucepan dedicated to cooking special food for under five children.

The family has adopted a number of Bio Intensive Agricultural Techniques (BIATs). The family has various plots of kitchen gardens with a variety of nutritious vegetables including bet root, spinach, cabbages, leek, amaranths, carrot, eggplants among other.

The family has also integrated all Gikuriro holistic approaches since they learnt their interdependence in fighting malnutrition. The family belongs to a Saving and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) group which lent them money for farming activities and is a member of CHC and was supported with iron-sheets to construct an improved latrine and a bath room to improve hygiene.

Murori has 29 VNS group members as according to Mukandungutse Consolee, a Maman Lumiѐre in the Village. She noted that when they started VNS activities, nine children were malnourished and six among them were having severe acute malnutrition and all of them were saved through Gikuriro VNS cooking demonstration and nutrition education.

Recent HMIS report showed that 69726 under five children were reached by Growth Monitoring Promotion services through which 586 children were identified as having moderate acute malnutrition while 88 had severe acute malnutrition by December 2017.

The 5-year Integrated Nutrition and Wash Activity (INWA)-Gikuriro program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Gikuriro goal is to improve nutrition status of women of reproductive age and children less than five years of age. The program is implemented in 8 districts of Rwanda. In Kayonza district, the program is implemented by Faith Victory Association (FVA) in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV).

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