Healthy Families, Healthy Kids in Benin
In Benin as many as 45% of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. This causes “stunting,” a condition and their weakened systems leave them more susceptible to other health problems, and worldwide, malnutrition is seen as a major contributing factor in half of child deaths.
Malnutrition is an immediate and serious health problem in Benin.
To combat this persistent health menace, Partners for Development (PfD) in Benin expanded the scope of activities to include practical nutrition education. This new area of intervention complements the GREEN Project, which focuses on vegetable production in southern Benin. To overcome this, both access to nutritious foods and health education are required.
Most Beninese children are fed pate, a corn-meal paste unaccompanied by fruits or vegetables. Pate alone is believed to be a source of strength. In response, PfD developed training materials on the importance of vegetables and fruit for both children and adults and hold community-based education sessions with vegetable farmers and their families.
PfD uses a variety of tactics to combat these threats to food security. Sanitation and hygiene trainings are conducted alongside those in nutrition. Culinary demonstrations show cooks how to preserve nutrients of their preferred dishes. Through the GREEN Project, PfD has developed and trained farmers and market sellers on techniques of vegetable preservation, such as drying and canning. While fresh fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious, proper preservation retains some nutritional value.
In addition to hands-on trainings at the village level, PfD has partnered with local radio stations to broadcast short public service announcements and longer educational programs on the importance of proper nutrition and hygiene. They also work in collaboration with GREEN’s mobile messaging system to send mass SMS messages on nutrition and hygiene to the thousands of farmers registered on it. This combination of mass media with grassroots education is at the heart of PfD’s effort to help end malnutrition in Benin.
PfD is committed to improving the health of children and families in Benin.