Hope as Turkana residents get Sh500m to fight malnutrition

Turkana Governor, Josphat Nanok with Bayer East Africa MD, Laurent Perrier during the launch of the five-year program (PHOTO: Courtesy)

Turkana residents from Katilu and Turkwel ward will benefit from Sh500 million grant meant for improving nutrition.

The five-year project aims at increasing the capacity of health facilities, boosting agriculture, access to quality water and educating community leaders and mothers on nutrition.

The county, which is the poorest among Kenya’s 47 devolved units, face record malnutrition rates; erratic climate conditions and disruption of traditional food sources. World Health Organisation has designated the county as acute food and livelihood crisis area.

“Long term studies indicate that nutritional interventions aimed at children in the first few years of life lead to measurable improvements in adolescence and adulthood,” said Al Mitchell, the President, Bayer Fund.

“Through this initiative, we are hoping to improve nutrition outcomes for more than 25,000 children in Turkana under the age of five and their mothers through sustainable educational awareness programmes.”

According to a baseline survey on the two wards, in more than three-quarters of the households interviewed, (80.2 per cent) there was no food from own production in the households or homestead at the time of data collection. 

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“All the women and caregivers knew the importance of introducing complementary foods at six months since breast milk alone was not adequate. Further, nearly all the women (95.0 per cent and 94.3 per cent) knew breastfed children aged 6-8months and aged 9-23months should be fed on solid and semi-solid foods at least 2 times and 3 times a day.

However, half of the respondents (59.0 per cent in Turkwel and 47.9 per cent in Katilu) reported that it was difficult to feed their children several times a day while 61.85 per cent and 52.9 per cent in Turkwel and Katilu respectively reported that it was difficult to feed their children on different types of food,” survey indicates.

Other key findings from the survey also show that over half of the farmers, food traders and respondent women lacked formal schooling. Farmer knowledge was found to be a critical gap as 35.7 per cent, 58.6 per cent and 20.7 per cent had low, moderate/average and high respectively.

The survey identified an opportunity to address the low farmer agri-nutrition knowledge through community-produced films and videos for continual use, distribution of pre-recorded messages on audio devices and other non-written modes of communication. 

The survey results also show that women form the majority of farmers and the responsibility and burden of producing food were on them. The survey identified an opportunity to actively engage men especially the youth spending productive time on gaming in the food value chain.

“We are pleased that the program is well-aligned with our key development priorities and agenda including the county integrated development plan and county nutrition action plan,” said Josephat Nanok, Governor, Turkana County.

“This partnership will allow us to join our resources, expand our reach and life-changing interventions to our community together, and achieve results in a more cost-effective and impactful way,” he added.

The project dubbed IMPACT (Improve Approach to Community-based Nutrition in Turkana) is being funded through a five-year grant from the Bayer Fund and managed by Africare with support from the government.

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Josephat NanokTurkana County