REGINA Elias’ baby was born with normal weight but later the health of the newborn deteriorated within the first three months. She lost weight and would not gain for a long time.
At the clinic for postnatal care of the mother and the newborns, markings on the weight card for the baby dropped to the grey colour and stuck there for a considerable long time until when she started home-based vegetable gardens which provided her with important nutrients. “I was not using healthy diets for the baby.
I was not giving her nutritious foods,” said Regina, a beneficiary of a Boresha Lishe project which seeks to reduce malnutrition and prevention of stunting for children in Ikungi and Singida Rural districts in Singida Region.
The project which is bankrolled by the European Union began in January 2018 and covers 3 2 wards (19 Ikungi district, 13 Singida district) with a total of 8 5 villages (43 Ikungi district and 42 Singida district).
According to a Demographic and Health Survey of 2 015 , stunting prevalence in the region was 29 .2 per cent, below the national average of 34 per cent.
The overall objective of the project is to reduce malnutrition and improve nutritional well-being of the Singida rural women through increased production and consumption of nutritious food with special emphasis on a micronutrientrich diet.
For Rehema, the homebased garden is providing her with vegetables which are helping combat malnutrition and diversify diets by enhancing supply of essential micro-nutrients through diversification of diets.
She said she gave birth to another baby when she had started producing vegetables at home and things were completely different. The baby had normal weight, with marking on her weight card in the clinic dotting on the green colour zone.
“The baby had good weight until they told me to reduce weight,” she said. Another woman, Joyce Amos said she had difficulties getting vegetables a few years ago when she moved to the Singida Rural.
Vegetables and fruits, important sources of micronutrients, were hard to be found which meant they could not get sufficient nutritious food at all times.
“When we were transferred here, getting vegetables was very difficult but after the project started and we gardens my baby grows well,” she said.
Singida Region, forms part of the semi-arid central zone of Tanzania, which experiences low rainfall and short rainy seasons which are often erratic, with fairly widespread drought in one year out of four.
There are two rather well defined seasons, the short rainy season during the months of December to March or sometimes goes to April and the long dry season from April to November.
A Nutrition Coordinator from Save the Children, a partner organization for Boresha Lishe project, Judith Kimambo said women were trained to establish home gardens for production of vegetables which are scarce during dry seasons.
Ms Kimambo said the gardens help the women to get vegetables which are important sources of many nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
“Small gardens help them to get nutrition throughout the year which is important in reducing malnutrition and stunting among children,” she said.
Home gardens for vegetables are one of components under Boresha Lishe project which seeks to reduce malnutrition and prevention of stunting by improving food and nutrition security in Ikungi and Singida Rural districts in Singida Region.