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Malnourished babies and moms get support to survive and thrive

A CCFC project is providing nutrients and training in Ethiopia

By Semereta Sewasew, communications manager, Ethiopia

Rimas was a small baby.  

“I was so worried when [he] was born,” recalls the baby’s mother, Tiru. “He was so … bony; there were many moments when I was sad thinking he would not survive.”

The tiny infant was malnourished, leading to delayed growth and weak motor skills.

Thankfully, a visit from Fatuma Sani (pictured above with Rimas and Tiru) changed Rimas’ outlook. The local health worker identified the baby as being malnourished and provided the family with the nutritional support he needed.

Stories of ill health among babies and new mothers are far too common in Ethiopia where 38 percent of children under the age of five are stunted and 24 percent are underweight, according to the Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey, 2016.

Pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under the age of five, in particular, require a healthy diet. In fact, when women don’t receive adequate nutrition during pregnancy, their baby could have a low birth weight, and the new mom could be vulnerable to diseases such as anemia and malaria.

That’s where Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) steps into the picture. Through the Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM), with funding from the Government of Canada, CCFC has been providing highly nutritious and fortified super-cereal and edible soybean oil to pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five.

The project team is also training community members to prepare nutritious local food and is inspiring mothers to put their learnings into practice. In addition, the team trains health-extension workers — grassroots community health workers — to identify and treat cases of malnourishment.

“The orientations I received from the project help me identify infectious diseases children, pregnant and lactating mothers are exposed to due to malnutrition,” explains Fatuma. “We have community meetings and house-to-house education for families on the preparation of the nutritious food. Moreover, we have tracked the progress of each of the recipients of the nutritional support. I am happy to see many who received support have shown wonderful progress.”

Fatuma has been visiting Rimas regularly to chart his progress. Today, to the delight of his mom, the one-year-old is flourishing — he’s walking and has had a noticeable weight gain.

So far, thanks to CAIA-MNCM, more than 1,250 boys and 1,360 girls as well as 1,000 pregnant and lactating mothers, have received nutritious food in Ethiopia to spur their development. Similarly, more than 1,950 pregnant mothers in the African nation attended seminars promoting the importance of nutrition.

Lives are being saved — and we’re just getting started.

Check back for more success stories about CAIA-MNCM, which runs until 2020.

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More about the project:

The Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality is a partnership among four Canadian organizations — Amref Health Africa, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and WaterAid Canada. With support of $24.9 million from the Government of Canada (85 percent of the total project budget), this four-year project (2016 to 2020) aims to directly reach 1.7-million women, children and men across 20 districts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. The partners are working together with African communities to improve the delivery of essential health services to moms, pregnant women, newborns and children under the age of five; increase the use of these improved health services; and improve the consumption of nutritious foods and supplements.

More about Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For nearly 60 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.