Hungry, stunted Pokot kids get food supplements

West Pokot has 49.5% malnutrition, compared to national average 35%

In Summary

• Stunting in children five and younger is irreversible if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

• Action Against Hunger on Tuesday donated Sh1.5 million food supplements for young children.

West Pokot has one of the highest rates of malnutrition and stunting in Kenya and they are getting worse because of drought and Covid-19.

On Tuesday, West Pokot received Sh1.5 million nutrition supplements for children donated by Action Against Hunger that delivered 1,200 cartons.

The supplements will help children under age five gain weight fast in a short period of time.

West Pokot has a malnutrition rate of 45.9 per cent, compared with the national figure of 35 per cent, health officials said. One in two children was reported stunted in the 2014 Demographic Health Report.

One supplement is Plumpy'nut, a peanut-based paste in a plastic wrapper for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and calories. It is especially good for children aged five and younger.

Action against Hunger West Pokot programme director Salome Tsindori said preventing and treating acute malnutrition is critical.

“Let’s ensure our children get foods rich in nutrients for healthy growth and development.

Malnutrition and stunting lead to impaired physical and mental development.

Tsindori said it's necessary to ensure families can access clean water, food, training and health care. Freedom from hunger is essential, she said.

County health executive Christine Apokoreng said the donations will help save children's lives for more than five months.

“We thought this year the rate would decrease since many partners are helping us but a recent survey indicated malnutrition and stunting have increased," she said.

She attributed the increase to Covid-19 that has curtailed businesses and delayed rains that have reduced food production.

Apokoreng said it is urgent to protect pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, children and other vulnerable people from malnutrition.

“The effect of chronic malnutrition in children aged five years and below is irreversible if it is diagnosed late," she said.

(Edited by V. Graham)