NO SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS

Concerns amid persistent malnutrition in arid counties

World Vision attributes scourge to failed seasons, poor child feeding and high disease rates in the regions

In Summary
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the prevalence of wasting in children under five was 5.7 percent in 2022.
  • Under-five mortality rates were 73 deaths per 1,000 live births—approximately three million in 2021.
Hon. Wisley Rotich, Governor of Elgeyo Marakwet (second from right), joins Marie Bettings, Head of Program Excellence & Impact Delivery at World Vision Canada (first right), Gilbert Kamanga, National Director of World Vision Kenya (centre), Dr. Anne Kimari, Board Member of World Vision Kenya (first left), and a local community health promoter to ceremonially cut the ribbon and launch the Global Affairs Canada-funded REACTS IN and BMZ-funded Grow ENRICH Projects in Elegeyo Marakwet. These initiatives aim to significantly improve maternal and child health and nutrition in Africa.
Hon. Wisley Rotich, Governor of Elgeyo Marakwet (second from right), joins Marie Bettings, Head of Program Excellence & Impact Delivery at World Vision Canada (first right), Gilbert Kamanga, National Director of World Vision Kenya (centre), Dr. Anne Kimari, Board Member of World Vision Kenya (first left), and a local community health promoter to ceremonially cut the ribbon and launch the Global Affairs Canada-funded REACTS IN and BMZ-funded Grow ENRICH Projects in Elegeyo Marakwet. These initiatives aim to significantly improve maternal and child health and nutrition in Africa.
Image: WORLD VISION
Dr. Anne Kimari, Board Member, World Vision Kenya (centre), Gilbert Kamanga, National Director, World Vision Kenya (centre), and Marie Bettings, Head of Program Excellence & Impact Delivery, World Vision Canada (fourth right) are joined by other senior leadership members of World Vision Kenya to launch the Global Affairs Canada-funded REACTS IN and BMZ-funded Grow ENRICH Projects in Elgeyo Marakwet. These initiatives aim to significantly improve maternal and child health and nutrition in Africa.
Dr. Anne Kimari, Board Member, World Vision Kenya (centre), Gilbert Kamanga, National Director, World Vision Kenya (centre), and Marie Bettings, Head of Program Excellence & Impact Delivery, World Vision Canada (fourth right) are joined by other senior leadership members of World Vision Kenya to launch the Global Affairs Canada-funded REACTS IN and BMZ-funded Grow ENRICH Projects in Elgeyo Marakwet. These initiatives aim to significantly improve maternal and child health and nutrition in Africa.
Image: WORLD VISION

Malnutrition remains a critical issue in arid counties, driven by a combination of recurring droughts, poor child feeding practices and rampant diseases.

According to the World Vision, despite efforts to address these challenges, the lack of sustainable solutions continues to jeopardise the health and well-being of vulnerable communities.

In Elgeyo Marakwet county, 22 per cent of children under five are stunted, 4.8 per cent are wasted, and 13.9 per cent are underweight.

To address this, World Vision and its partners have invested Sh803.4 million ($6.04 million) to strengthen maternal and child health and nutrition in Africa.

They have launched two transformative health projects in collaboration with the Elgeyo Marakwet county government aimed at combating severe malnutrition and improving maternal and child health in Kenya.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich expressed gratitude for the investment, noting its potential to transform countless families' lives in the county.

"With poverty rates at 46 per cent in Elgeyo Marakwet, higher than the national average, access to food is a significant challenge, leading to alarmingly high malnutrition rates among our children. Astonishingly, in every 10 children in the county, five are uncertain of their next meal," Rotich said.

He added: "Through these pivotal projects, we anticipate a major shift that will empower families to access sufficient food and lead more stable lives. These projects will also help reduce harmful practices driven by food insecurity and poverty."

World Vision Board Member Dr Anne Kimari highlighted that malnutrition remains a pressing global public health issue despite extensive worldwide efforts. She emphasised that the situation in Elgeyo Marakwet mirrors this global challenge.

"We have children who are still facing high malnutrition, and that is why we are here today," she said.

"Through strong partnerships with Nutrition International, Harvest Plus, McGill University, Anglican Development Services, Kenya Agricultural Research Organisations, the government and local communities, we will strive to improve nutrition, nutrition-related rights, and gender equality for the poorest women, adolescent girls and children under five."

Nearly 900,000 Kenyan children aged six to 59 months need assistance with acute malnutrition and food security.

According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2022, only 25.5 per cent of children under two in Elgeyo Marakwet receive the minimum dietary diversity required for healthy growth.

Additionally, teenage pregnancy in the county stands at 12 per cent, compared to the national average of 15 per cent, and women face higher rates of physical violence at 30 per cent compared to the national average of 34 per cent.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the prevalence of wasting in children under five was 5.7 per cent in 2022, while under-five mortality rates were 73 deaths per 1,000 live births—approximately three million in 2021.

The funding for these projects will come from the Global Affairs Canada-funded REACTS IN (Realising Gender Equality, Attitudinal Change & Transformative Systems in Nutrition) Project and the BMZ-funded Grow ENRICH (Enhancing Nutrition Services to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Africa) Project.

"In light of these alarming rates of stunting and hunger, especially among children, World Vision has committed to focusing the next three years on reducing hunger and improving nutrition for 125 million children across 67 countries where they are suffering most. Twenty-seven of those countries are in Africa, and nine are in East Africa, including parts of Kenya," Kimari said.

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