Women as Drivers of Change in Malnutrition
POST AND PHOTOS BY MAGGIE ANDRESEN // PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2017
Malnutrition is a complex and pervasive global health crisis. While food aid remains crucial for populations in crisis and famine conditions, longer term solutions are vital for ending chronic and acute malnutrition in communities that may be politically stable, but remain food insecure and nutrient depraved. People, not rations or food supplements, will solve malnutrition; and women are the change-makers on the frontlines of this battle.
Women are the primary caregivers in most societies, including Rwanda, and thus bear the primary responsibility of rearing children to successful adulthood. When families are food insecure, women are more likely to bear the burden of malnutrition to ensure male heads of home are better nourished. Malnourished mothers, especially those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, often unintentionally manifest cycles of generational malnutrition through delivering low birth weight children, exacerbated later when children lack adequate food intake.
When women are empowered to take charge of their children’s nutrition, long-term solutions become feasible through everyday care. Studies show when women control a family’s finances, a higher percentage of family income goes towards nutritious food and health care. In one study conducted in the Côte D’Ivoire, it was found that when men were given the option to choose agricultural inputs, they consistently cultivated “pleasure” crops such as coffee, cacao, and pineapples, while women chose diverse, high-yielding crops such as coconuts, plantains, and vegetables. When the men’s crops yielded well, much of the income was spent on alcohol or tobacco. When the women’s crops fared better, more money went to education and food, particularly meat. “Consumption of vegetables is much more strongly related to female crop income,” wrote Dr. Duflo in the summary of the 2004 study, noting the link between households where women are empowered to make decisions around resource allocation and consumption of nutrient-diverse diets. As a result, children are often healthier when food and agricultural decisions are made by mothers.
Gardens for Health International (GHI) works within this framework, believing that when equipped with the right tools, all mothers can help their children lead healthy, successful lives. GHI works directly targets primary caregivers, meaning we work largely with mothers whose children have been identified as acutely or chronically malnourished by a local Community Health Worker during growth monitoring campaigns. Our trainings are built for mothers. In addition to lessons on nutrition and malnutrition, they include topics, including lessons on breastfeeding, family planning, and recognizing intimate partner violence. Through our integrated an integrated approach of health and agriculture trainings, our graduates learn sustainable methods to produce and consume healthy foods, ensuring children are meeting their nutritional requirements and keep nutritious food in their children’s diets.
79% of women in low income (“developing”) countries rely on agriculture as their primary form of income. Globally, so do 48% of women who are active in income generation. By empowering women to take charge of their family’s crop choice and spending power, children are more likely to grow up in food-secure circumstances. If complemented with a practical education in healthcare, mothers around the world could begin to set their children on a path to better health. GHI believes that women can change the world, and that education empowers them to do so.
Help us change the world by empowering women to improve the health of thousands of children with a donation to GHI today.
Translation by Monica Mutoni
Abagore bayoboye impinduka mu mirire mibi.
Imirire mibi ni ikintu gihangayikishije isi yose. Nubwo imfanshanyo y’ibyo kurya ari igenzi ku bantu bari mu makuba ndetse banshonje cyane, ingamba zihamye zigomba gufatwa mu buryo bwo kurwanya imirire mibi mu bihugu bifite umutekano ariko bikaba bitihagije mu biribwa. Ntago ari infashanyo zizakuraho ikibazo k’imirire kandi abagore nibo bafashe iyambere mu kurwana uru rugamba.
Akenshi usanga bagore aribo bita ku miryango cyane ndetse no Murwanda niko bimeze bivuze ko aribo barera abana bagakura neza. Iyo imiryango idafite ibyo kurya bihagije, abagore nibo bagira umutwaro wo kurya nabi ariko bagaharanira kugirango abagabo babo barye neza. Abagore barya nabi cyanecyane abatwite cyangwa se abonsa babyara abana bafite ibiro bike cyane bigatuma habaho abantu bafite imire mibi kubera ko baba barabuze indyo yuzuye bakiri bato.
Iyo abagore bashishikarijwe kwita ku mirire y’abana babo, bizana ibisubizo birambye. Ubushakashatsi bwagaragaje ko iyo abagore bagenzuye umutungo wurugo, amafaranga menshi agendera ku byo kurya no kwita ku buzima bw’umuryango. Inyigo yakozwe mu gihugu cya Côte D’Ivoire, byagaragaye o iyo abagabo bahisemo guhinga akenshi bahinga imyaka mbaturabukungu nka cocoa n’inanasi, mugihe abagore bahitamo guhinga imyaka itandukanye nka coconuts, imboga n’ibindi. Nubwo umusaruro w’abagabo wavuye amafaranga menshi cyane, amenshi bayataye ku nzoga n’itabi. Umusaruro w’abagore wavuyemo amafaranga agereranyije amafaranga menshi yagendeye ku mashuli y’abana n’ibyo kurya cyanecyane inyama.” imboga n’indyo y’abagore.” Byanditwe na Dr.Duflo mu gikusanyo yakoze mu 2004 aho abagore bashishikarijwe kugora amahitamo mu gushaka indyo ifite intungamubiri yuzuye. Icyiza kivamo nuko akwnshi usanga abana bafite umuzima bwiza iyo ari abagore bahisemo icyo bahinga n’icyo abana barya.
Umurima w’ubuzima ukora muri ubu buryo wizera ko abagore bose bahawe ubushobozi bakeneye bashobora gufasha abana babo kugira ubuzima buzira umuze. Umurima w’ubuzima wibanda cyane ku bantu bita ku miryango bivuze ko dukorana cyane n.abagore bafite abana abajyanama b’ubuzima basuzumyemo imirire mibi. Amahugurwa dutanga yubakiwe kwigisha abagore. Ikindi nuko amasomo yiyingera kuy’imirire myiza n’imibi, muri aya masamo harimo konsa, kuboneza urubyaro, ihohoterwa mu rugo. Biciye mu buryo bwacu dukoresha mu gutanga amahugurwa ku buzima n’ubuhinzi bworozi, abamaze guhugurwa biga uburyo bwiza bwo guhinga no kurya indyo yuzuye kugirango abana babo babone indyo ikwiye.
79% by’abagore baba mu bihugu bikiri mu nzira y’amajyambere batunzwe n’ubuhinzi. Ubwo bivuze ko ku isi hose abagore bangana na 48% nibo bashobora gukora imirimo ibabyarira inyungu. Gushishikariza abagore kwita ku miryango yabo bagabura indyo yuzuye, abana bakura neza ahantu hari ibyo kurya bihagije. Abagore bahawe inyigisho zihagije ku buzimabwiza bashobora kwita ku buzima bw’abana babo. Umurima w’ubuzima ufite ikizere ko abagore bahindura isi biciye mu burezi.
Byashyizwe mu Kinyarwanda na Monica Mutoni