Addressing undernutrition in children

In December 2011, Concern Worldwide and Kerry Group announced a pioneering initiative aimed at improving undernutrition and mortality rates in children under two years of age in the developing world.

Kerry has contributed €1.25m of the overall €3.7m budget to the five-year pilot project called RAIN (Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition) in the Mumbwa District of Zambia. In Zambia, nearly half of all children suffer from chronic malnutrition, resulting in irreversible stunting.

RAIN is a unique programme in that it combines agriculture and nutrition interventions to effectively prevent mother and child undernutrition in rural communities. By increasing the amount of micronutrient rich food crops produced at household level, improving health and nutrition behaviour and empowering women in decision making, the prevalence of stunting can be reduced.

Programme achievements in 2015:

  • a 40% increase in the number of group meetings led by Smallholder Model Farmers
  • 1,998 home visits to individual farmers, about 45% of the total number of beneficiaries
  • ongoing engagement with rural health clinics and environmental health technicians to deliver health and nutrition information including the provision of visual aids to support learning
  • distribution of pumps and sprayers to enhance agricultural activities in light of the poor rainy season in 2014/2015
  • provision of 53 additional solar driers that help to reduce the time taken to dry surplus fruit and vegetables
  • partnering with the District Medical Office on the distribution of weighing scales to health centres to allow for the monitoring of children’s growth and to improve the rates of community outreach
  • rehabilitation of a further 10 boreholes which was of particular significance given the poor rains during this period

The first phase of the RAIN project has now concluded and the full impact of the programme over the past five years is currently being assessed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Initial results are encouraging and show that the RAIN project has resulted in a diversification in diet, improved feeding practices and delivered a greater gender balance in household decision making, as well as in community and district structures.

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