Here’s what EU support to WFP means for women and children in The Gambia
It is morning in Kerewan, a small village in the Gambian region of the North Bank near the Amdalai border with Senegal. Karou, a mother of four children, is taking her six month old set of twins — Fatou and Lamin — to a nutrition support centre for the first time.
“My twins have now reached the stage when they cannot depend only on breastfeeding to fill their bellies but I do not have the right food to give them in addition to breast milk,” Karou says. “When I heard about the nutrition programme I decided to head early to the centre so that my children can benefit from the support,” she adds.
At the centre, both Fatou and Lamin are screened for malnutrition. They are very weak and weigh far below the average for their age. They are immediately enrolled for malnutrition treatment where they will receive specialised nutritious foods in what specialist call a targeted supplementary feeding programme.
Karou’s twins are amongst many vulnerable children — mostly in the rural parts of the Gambia — who have limited access to nutritious complementary foods that puts them at risk of malnutrition, which in its chronic stage can cause irreversible damage to the child’s health and development.
The World Food Programme (WFP), through a contribution from the European Union, is scaling up its prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition in the country. There is a focus on four regions — Lower River, Central River, Upper and North Banks regions — which are home to most malnourished children under the age of 5 and pregnant and nursing women.
WFP and its partners in all four regions provide specialised nutritious foods including fortified ready-to-use pastes for children affected by moderate acute malnutrition. Karou’s twins received a supply of one of these products known as Plumpy’ Sup meant for malnourished children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.
“With this support, I will be able to feed my children better and I am happy to know that they will become healthier and stronger” says Karou, who is the third wife of her husband.
WFP, which partners with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the National Nutrition Agency, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Gambia Red Cross Society, plans to provide pregnant and breastfeeding mothers who are malnourished with fortified nutritious cereals and vegetable oil every month.
The EU funded nutrition project is set to assist more than 60, 000 women and children affected by rising malnutrition exacerbated by increasing poverty levels, growing food insecurity, and poor dietary habits in the Gambia.
WFP is working with UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that have also received EU financial support to respond to food and nutrition security in the Gambia.
Written by Isatou Njai
Originally published at medium.com on December 12, 2017.