Eggs roll nutrition into the diets of nearly 10,000 Mozambicans
World Food Programme resilience training is empowering people in spite of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic
Eating a humble egg can make the difference between a poor diet and a nutritious and healthy one. A healthy diet is a minimum requirement for ensuring immune systems are as strong as they can be in the face of disease, not least the coronavirus pandemic.
In June last year, the World Food Programme (WFP) in Mozambique started to receive a grant from the Austria Development Agency. The aim? Implementing a multi-year, gender-transformative and nutrition-sensitive programme to reduce stunting while empowering women in one of the most vulnerable parts of the country. The project targets 1,500 vulnerable families — 9,337 people — in the Chemba district of Sofala province, central Mozambique.
The programme is distributing 48 eggs per month to each vulnerable family together with a food basket set to meet 75 percent of calorific needs, with 40 kgs of fortified maize meal, 20 kgs of beans, 3 litres of fortified vegetable oil and 1 kg of iodized salt.
There is also a focus on sexual and reproductive health, children’s health, nutrition and women’s empowerment — participants include pregnant or breastfeeding women; adolescent girls; and children aged under 2.
Promoting agency among women and girls is particularly important in Mozambique, which has the tenth highest number of child marriages around the world. One out of two girls is married before the age of 18; 40 percent of girls have their first child by the age of 18.
WFP seeks to address gender inequality by promoting informed maternal nutrition and health practices, feeding for infants and young children. But there are obstacles. In this part of Mozambique, for example, some believe that pregnant women eating eggs will result in them having bald children.
Communicating accurate messages is key, along with nutritious recipes to make sure families correctly integrate diversified foods into their diets. The WFP-led ‘Fill the Nutrition Gap’ report, published in 2018, found that while Mozambicans can afford a diet adequate in calories, few can afford a nutritious diet — which is key to achieving WFP’s objective of strengthening resilience over the long term.
During the first year of the project in Chemba, people built a package of assets for their households. Communities decided which activities they will be working on. They were brought up to speed on issues surrounding water and sanitation as well as diet diversification. After being provided with the necessary tools to engage in the decision-making process they were trained in creating toilets and garbage pits, as well as home gardens and tree nurseries.
This important nutrition intervention has carried on in spite of COVID-19, with the introduction of physical distancing and other measures, such as hand-washing stations.
WFP has doubled monthly food distributions, reducing the social contact between vulnerable communities, WFP staff and partnering NGOs. Programme activities, made possible by the generous support of the Austrian Development Agency, are set to end in December 2021.
WFP has issued an urgent call for US$4.9 billion in funding in order to reach up to 138 million people with food assistance around the world by the end of the year.