This project aims to combat malnutrition through awareness raising. It will also be about working with ten critically undernourished children as well as their families by working on a food program designed by a nutritional scientist.
Which problem do we aim to solve and why?
Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, is divided into communes. Adajmé is a commune where the majority of the population belongs to middle to lower income groups. They mostly live from the informal economic sector through small activities such as trade. The women there are sometimes engaged in catering. Dallas is a quarter of this commune. The inhabitants mainly live in communities. This quarter was selected because the INSP (National Institute of Public Health Côte d’Ivoire) registered a high rate of malnourished children between 2009 and 2016. Our mission will be to fight against malnutrition and obesity, especially in children, by informing the public and raising awareness about the direct and indirect causes and consequences of hidden hunger. In some West African countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, customs and traditions have an important influence on culinary habits. Some of these influences can even be associated with stunting in small children. There is also often the misconception that overweight children and/or people are healthy while slim people are sick. A lack of knowledge but also ignorance are, for the most part, the main reasons for this attitude. Therefore, it will be necessary to take into account some culinary habits and create more awareness and knowledge about the issue. A focus is also placed on the environment, even if the relationship between the environment and hidden hunger is not always transparent. Maintaining a clean environment contributes to the good nutritional status of the Dallas residents. Due to an unsanitary environment, the children are mostly exposed to bacterial diseases such as enteropathy. Because of this disease the nutrient uptake of the organism is reduced. In addition, another focus is placed on the status of ten critical undernourished children who are to be rehabilitated by a nutrition program.
The following specific solutions are proposed with the aim of overcoming the deficit nutrition in poorer people, with the beneficiaries being better affected also in Dallas:
- Awareness raising: The topic of malnutrition is unknown and not present in public discourse. In order for the population of Dallas to become aware of the problem or the existence of malnutrition, a broad awareness campaign shall be undertaken on the causes, the risk and the consequences of malnutrition. Photo exhibitions and posters will be made and through the “porte á porte” (house to house) method mobile teams will inform people about the lack of healthy and balanced nutrition in Dallas. Broadcasts in the citizens’ radios increase the chances of reaching the population in Dallas in a targeted manner.
- Discussions: Discussions with residents of Dallas on the topic of malnutrition shall be conducted as well as a rehabilitation program for ten critically under-nourished infants (0‑5 years). In doing so, the inhabitants are given the opportunity to ask a nutritionist, a pediatrician and a gynecologist questions on the subject in order to receive first-hand answers. Training on healthy cooking procedures and methods for overcoming malnutrition shall be offered. It is recommended to mothers to breast-feed their infants exclusively until the 6th month. They will also be examined to obtain information on their health. After the first meeting, ten toddlers having a critical condition will be selected to be treated by a nutritionist. As far as the Dallas area is concerned, there will be an initiative for environmental protection and the accessibility of fruit and vegetables by planting vegetable gardens.
Why is our idea innovative, new and different?
At the center of our service are children from 0 to 5 years old. Our approach is innovative because it takes into account different aspects: the health, as well as cultural and environmental background for overcoming malnutrition. Through this approach, the inhabitants are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own health and nutrition as well as maintaining their environment by means of educational intervention. In addition, agricultural/gardening techniques are introduced, learned and implemented in Dallas for easy accessibility of nutrients, e.g. through tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.
How is our idea feasible?
For the implementation of the ideas an “aggressive sensitization”, a sort of shock therapy by photo exhibitions of malnourished children is operated. Mobile teams for discussions and training as well as the maintenance of the environment are being set up. Afterwards, a program for the learning of good cooking practices is established. These procedures are also followed by the ten malnourished children. Organic gardens are created for easy access to nutrients, thus enhancing food security for the inhabitants.
Which technologies, channels or methods are we planning to use?
The following channels, technologies and methods, such as posters and the citizens’ radio, are used to achieve the desired objectives. The public radio shall broadcast the information also in local languages, because not many of the Ivorians, especially the residents of Dallas, own a TV or speak French. In order to convince the youth in Côte d’Ivoire of the subject and to encourage them to engage themselves in the fight against malnutrition, blogs, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are used. Recognized medical equipment is used for the detection as well as for the preventive examination. A guide and a translator for the most widely spoken languages in Dallas will be needed for a successful communication between us and the Dallas residents, as well as a beamer, a screen, microphones, a photo camera, etc. This project should eventually be subject to a documentary film, however also as an inspiration source for future actions against malnutrition in other regions.
What outcome and what improvements do we expect? How do we measure these?
The following results are expected: In the end the use of funds is evaluated to determine the profit and loss with the aim of future improvement. A well-informed and responsible population in Dallas is one of the goals of this effort. In fact, the residents of Dallas should be able to master and implement the techniques, methods, and cooking procedures they have learned from the nutritionist. Teams that would consist of residents of Dallas should be able to accompany the other Dallas people in implementing good cooking practices through continuing education. These teams should also ensure the maintenance of a clean environment as well as the vegetable gardens.
Our budget planning & acquisition of potential partners
The budget will be used to provide materials needed for the project, such as a scale, photo camera, laptop, easel, etc. The INSP, with its nutritionists, pediatricians, gynecologists and the Dallas population, students, citizens’ radios will be helpful partners for the implementation of our ideas.
Gabin Effo Kra
Marcel Sonan Angbo