KAGERA Regional Commissioner (RC), Ms Fatma Mwassa has called for increased awareness on good nutrition as an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle.
Equally, she urged councils, nutrition officers and wananchi to cooperate in efforts to end malnutrition in the region.
“Concerted efforts are needed to ensure that hundreds of stunted children in Kagera region are saved. A recent baseline survey indicated that almost 224,364 children aged below five years in Kagera region were stunted,” she said.
Addressing stakeholders in Bukoba Municipal Council recently, Ms Mwassa said the rate of stunting among children aged below five years was still high at 34.3 per cent.
“Urgent action was thus needed to control micro-nutrient deficiency including fortifying school meals. Councils and all stakeholders should join hands to find a lasting solution,” she said.
Ms Mwassa explained that Kagera region has conducive weather for production of cash and food crops. The region had enough food varieties including bananas, beans and fisheries resources from Lake Victoria and 14 satellite lakes … food availability is not a problem. What is needed is to educate families on the best food varieties to eat on daily basis.
Minimum acceptable diet stood at 18.1 per cent compared to the national average of 30.3 per cent. The rate of continued breastfeeding at two years stood at 44.4 per cent while the national average was 43.3 per cent. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding stood at 85 per cent and meal frequency per day stood at 55 per cent.
While some efforts have been made to reduce the rate of stunting from 41.7 per cent during 2015/16 to 39.8 per cent during 2018/19, the rate of stunting among children aged below five years was still high at 34.4 per cent.
“It is high time that every person cooperates to realise the goal of malnutrition-free in Kagera. Without necessary actions children will remain at greater risk in the region. Investing in nutrition is essential for Tanzania to progress,” she said.
Meanwhile, Food Fortification Project Manager, Mr Archard Ngemela urged all stakeholders to join hands in fighting malnutrition and hidden hunger, noting that more efforts should be made to educate the public, especially pregnant women, on the importance of breastfeeding and eating food varieties rich in micro-nutrients, proteins and vitamin A.
He explained that at least 240 schools comprising of 120,000 pupils in six Lake Zone regions namely Simiyu, Geita, Mwanza, Kagera, Mara and Shinyanga would be provided with fortified food.
A recent report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicated that Kagera Region is among 12 regions with high rate of stunting among children aged below five years, which currently stood at 34.3 per cent down from 39.8 per cent during 2018/19.