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Ensuring netter nutrition for refugee children

Ensuring better nutrition for refugee children

“In 2009 one of my children became malnourished and was put on a supplementary feeding programme at Rwenyawawa Health Centre, but since I joined the Malisho Bora group malnutrition has become a thing of the past not only in my home but also in my neighborhood," says Nyirabunanai Donata, a 38-year old Congolese refugee and mother living in Kagoma village, northern Uganda. 

Ensuring better nutrition for refugee children

“In 2009 one of my children became malnourished and was put on a supplementary feeding programme at Rwenyawawa Health Centre, but since I joined the Malisho Bora group malnutrition has become a thing of the past not only in my home but also in my neighborhood," says Nyirabunanai Donata, a 38-year old Congolese refugee and mother living in Kagoma village, northern Uganda.

Nyirabunanai is a member of a Malisho Bora (Good Nutrition) mother group an initiative of Action African Help Uganda and the local health facilities serving refugees and host communities in and around Kyangwali refugee settlement in northern Uganda. She joined the group in 2010 after integrated outreach by the nutrition department and AAH Uganda staff in Kagoma.

Ensuring netter nutrition for refugee children

This is part of a broader initiative by AAH Uganda to extend nutrition services in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. These services have been implemented in four health centers, including Rwenyawawa, that serve both the refugees and the local community. Outreach activities are being conducted under the supervision of a professional nutritionist with the help of two nutrition assistants, community health workers and mothers’ groups at the community level. The services provided include; nutritional education, supplementary feeding at each of the four facilities and therapeutic feeding at Kyangwali Health Centre III, home visiting, promotion of child feeding practices, food preparation demonstrations and  growth monitoring. Nutrition services are intended to reach clients at the health facilities and in the community level.

Nyirabunanai explains, “I have learned about good child feeding practices and I am now am able to prepare nutritious meals and gruel for my young children. I have learned why and how to keep a good kitchen garden. AAH Uganda provided us with some vegetable seeds which I have planted and these have helped me prevent disease in my family, for instance using beetroot to prevent anemia.” She says that she has always kept a vegetable garden and sold vegetables to earn income. The AAH Uganda initiative has really boosted her efforts. However, the group would appreciate continued support in the form of more agricultural inputs and agricultural extension services.

Nyiranbunanai explains, “I have been able to share my experiences of parenting with group members and even shared information with my fellow women in the village on issues such as breastfeeding techniques, how to ensure your family has a balanced diet, how to preserve and prepare food for better nutrition.”

I thank AAH Uganda for the continuous support specifically on the knowledge and skill they rendered to me and all the group members. I also call upon all women of child bearing age in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement to join Malisho Bora group. In addition, I urge the men to support us to alleviate malnutrition and other related illnesses in Kyangwali.

This group has been beneficial to children, mothers, family members, health care providers and pregnant women among others. Through this group we have not only received support but also learnt from each other. Cushioning support has been given to the women, especially the new ones, thus developing greater confidence and coping mechanisms that come with motherhood.

Inspiring story ahead of the World Refugee day.