Gearing up to improve the nutritional status of children
The registration of malnourished children under 5 years has kicked off in Elwak town, Gedo region, under the Somalia programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I). The activity is a follow-up of a baseline survey that was carried out by AAH-I in December, 2015, which indicated that at least 13.5% of the children in Elwak district had a Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) below 12.5cm.
MUAC of between 110mm (11.0cm) and 125mm (12.5cm), is usually indicated with a red or orange colour on the standard colour tape and indicates Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) in which the child should be immediately referred for supplementation. A MUAC of less than 110mm (11.0cm) indicates Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and the child should be immediately referred for treatment.
Being a pastoralist community, milk is the most common meal for children in Elwak district. Milk lacks all the essential nutrients needed for proper growth and development of children under 5 years. Many children in Elwak district are malnourished due to this lack of access to nutritious food. The nutrition programme is expected to support the reduction of the number of children whose MUAC is below 12.5cm by 10%. The project will target a total of 200 children from Waberi, Halwadag, October and Madina villages. Every child will receive 3 plumpy nuts per day for the next 3 months.
Additional data captured during the activity included the weight, height and age of the children and the mother’s contect details. “I cannot afford to purchase milk or any other nutritious food because of my financial position. My husband is a watchman and earns a monthly salary of USD $100. This is hardly enough for our family’s monthly expenditure and a such I cannot purchase special meal for my child. This is why my child has severe malnutrition,” said 26-year-old Mario Sahal. Mario’s 1-year-old daughter Asha Abdullah had a MUAC of 10.2cm and weighed in at 5kg.
“The high-protein, high-energy plump nuts are used for nutritional rehabilitation of children. To address long-term sustainable nutrition, the project is also implementing community-based food and income security interventions to address the region’s food crises due to climatic hazards,” concludes AAH-I Project Field Coordinator Abdinasir Ali.