Alleviating Malnutrition through Local Food Solutions and a Healthy Environment
Note: this is the 2nd part of the series, Nature Protected and Lives Impacted, on ABCG’s Success Stories
Gaby (extreme left) supports a soy-enriched porridge cooking demonstration with women focal points as part of their training. Photo credit: Olivier Njounan Tegomo, WWF, Cameroon
“Gaby” is the abbreviation of the name Gabriel. This affectionate nickname was very kindly given to the head of the Catholic health center of Moloundou in southeast Cameroon by his patients. Gaby is a hardworking man with a big heart, who has been taking care of the people of Moloundou for years through his actions in the health center.
ABCG’s Population, Health and Environment (PHE) task activity in the periphery of Lobeke National Park, southeast Cameroon consists of implementing activities to link sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and food security. In this population, health and environment integrated approach to gather lessons and best practices, WWF collaborated with the government health partner, including the district health services staff to implement interventions relating to the fight against malnutrition. In addressing the high rates of malnutrition in the project area, WWF has been promoting sustainable agriculture as part of the PHE project, this component is integrated into food security and linked to nutrition.
In engaging the government health partner to take part in the nutrition and food security interventions, Gaby used local foods to create a nutritious complementary food/rehabilitation food mixture to alleviate malnutrition in children, mildly to moderately malnourished. Since the start of ABCG’s PHE activities, the health center staff have benefitted from the support of the project to conduct anthropometric measurements (measures that assess body parameters to indicate nutritional status), as part of routine screening campaigns for children in villages in the project area. Based on results obtained from the baseline survey conducted at the start of the ABCG pilot activities, the project suggested using an approach to rehabilitating malnourished children that would be more sustainable in the long run than the mechanisms that have been used in the area in the past, which rely on ready-to-use costly therapeutic food.
Gaby’s miracle porridge
This is how Gaby, one of the PHE champions in the community, got to work and developed this nutritious porridge recipe from locally available foods, that is now known as “Gaby’s miracle porridge”! This ABCG PHE pilot activity contributed to the success of the nutrition and food security component, mainly due to Gaby’s key involvement in training women focal points to become peer educators. They then organized educational sessions for over 500 mothers in the project area, who took part in cooking demonstrations and received practical information on feeding practices to prevent malnutrition and rehabilitate malnourished children with local foods. This initiative also included capacity building and practical sessions on developing family and community gardens and orchards to improve dietary diversity and to provide the right types of nutritious food required to make “Gaby’s miracle porridge”. Through this activity, there has been an increase in the frequency of meals fed to children under the age of 5 years, from 2.28 meals/day at the onset of the project to 3.5 meals/day at the end of the project.
Gaby’s dedication to his work combined with the support provided by these pilot activities, has contributed to improve the wellbeing of the people in the project area. He is now seen as a PHE champion and is a great advocate of sustainable use of resources for the benefit and health of the people.
This video explains the activities that ABCG has been carrying out with the communities to advance a vision that incorporates health outcomes into biodiversity conservation and sustainable development insub-Saharan Africa