Swiss contribution in DRC to contribute to reducing chronic malnutrition
The contribtuion by Swiss Cooperation in DRC will contribute to reducing the prevalence of chronic malnutrition in children under 5 years old and to meeting the nutrition needs of 12,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers and 12,000 children aged 6 to 23 months, through the various interventions of United Nations agencies. This funding will be over a period of three years. Aid with a value of US$3 million will enable UNICEF, FAO and WFP to continue and extend their project to combat chronic malnutrition in the health areas of Bunyakiri and Minova, in Sud-Kivu province.
Through direct multisectoral interventions in nutrition, food security and access to water, hygiene and sanitation, Switzerland’s first contribution, estimated at more than US$2 million in the first phase of this project between 2015 and 2017, has already helped to improve the nutritional status of 80% of children from new-born to 23 months and pregnant and nursing women.
In DRC, malnutrition is a public health problem. Not one of its 26 provinces is spared from this scourge that so undermines the lives of children aged under 5 years old. In the province of Sud-Kivu, for example, one child in two is affected by malnutrition. “With this new Swiss Cooperation contribution, UNICEF, FAO and WFP are going to be able to carry on working in a complementary manner to leverage the gains of the first phase of the project,,” said UNICEF.
The interventions of the three United Nations agencies
The first phase of Swiss funding allowed each of the three recipient agencies to carry out actions, each in its own area of work and in line with its mandate, to support women and children to fight malnutrition.
This funding enabled UNICEF to train and equip health facilities to monitor and promote the growth of 8,900 children under 5 years old. More than 25,000 children aged from new-born to 5 years also received vitamin A supplements and Mebendazole to treat parasitic worms. 11,000 pregnant and nursing women, including the carers of infants from new-born to 23 months old, were given advice on feeding infants and small children. In addition to these actions, UNICEF refurbished 42 water sources and built two water supply mini-systems that enabled 192,000 people to access drinking water. Hand-wash and sanitation devices were built in 37 schools in the project intervention area, helping to prevent waterborne diseases.
For its part, WFP distributed 520 tonnes of super-cereals and 53 tonnes of vegetable oil to 11,000 pregnant and nursing women in order to prevent stunting in new-borns and infants. 11,500 children from 6 to 23 months old were given 80 tonnes of nutritional supplements to their meals, providing them with the energy and micronutrients needed for normal growth. WFP also contributed to work in agriculture, providing 675 tonnes of foodstuffs to 2,700 farming households, in order to encourage them to plant their grain rather than eating it during the planting season..
FAO supported the diversification of food production by the introduction of crops rich in micronutrients. More than 2,700 households received ground-tilling tools and bio-fortified food crop seeds such as maize, peanut, soy-bean, manioc and sweet potato.
Beneficiary families also planted fruit gardens near health centres and women’s associations. This enabled children suffering from malnutrition and pregnant and nursing women to have access to micronutrients such as iron and zinc. FAO also promoted a revival in the breeding of Guinea pigs as a source of animal protein specifically for children. These activities fostered improved agricultural production and food security.