The world is experiencing interesting times as a result of COVID-19. As in any other calamity, children, women and other vulnerable groups are the most affected. Most non-profits have scaled down their operations hence opening Pandora’s Box on the future of communities that depend on their aid. Closing of borders and restricted movements puts children in low-income areas at a higher risk of malnutrition. The pandemic is threatening to reverse the positive strides already made in the fight against child malnutrition.
Most hardship areas have insufficient or no healthcare services. Commonly the non-profits are the sole service providers in the communities. According to the World Food Program 2016 report, an estimated 155 million children under the age of 5 years were suffering from stunting. The report also indicate that 45% of deaths among children under 5 years is linked to undernutrition. The casualty rate is much higher in middle-income and low-income countries.
In Turkana County Kenya, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels among children range 15 percent and 30 percent. The prevalence rate exceeds the WHO threshold of 15%.
Through the support of Bayer Fund, Africare recognizes the impact COVID-19 could have on the county. Africare nutritionists stationed in health centers across the county continue to offer nutrition assistance to children and mothers amidst the pandemic. They have been equipped with protective materials such as masks and hand sanitizers to ensure they safely dispense their services.
Access to information is a challenge especially for communities in remote areas. Africare has collaborated with the Turkana County Government to create awareness. Africare has dedicated a vehicle to spread awareness in Turkana South.Field officers on agricultural work continue to spread messages on the importance of social distancing and hand washing to the locals. Videos on handwashing techniques have been created to make the awareness more effective.
As supply chains have been affected, food security especially in hardship areas is threatened. In line with this looming threat, Africare has made adjustments to ensure that the agricultural programs continue running. We are glad to report that there is positive progress on the targeted farms. New farms are being cleared, ploughing and planting is going on while on other farms farmers are already weeding their crops. Africare recognizes the devastating effects food shortage can have on children’s health. The programs run by the organization are therefore geared to mitigate such threats.