Nutrition experts have said concentrating on the first 1000 days of a person’s life could help in the cognitive as well as physical development of a child.
Concern Universal Balaka District Scaling Up Nutrition (Sun) coordinator, Migress Zande, said the first two years of life from conception determines a person’s development and right nutrition plays a crucial role in shaping up the cognitive formation and stopping stunting.
Speaking during a food fair open day at Sawali on Saturday where different foods were displayed, Zande said stuntedness was at 44 percent in Balaka.
“Concern Universal and Malawi government are encouraging lactating mothers to exclusively breast feed children, prepare and eat wholesome food containing the six food groups and also have backyard vegetable gardens,” Zande said.
She said the Sun project aims at preventing malnutrition that stunts growth and development of nearly half of Malawians.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Nutrition Officer Madalitso Chuma said high rates of malnutrition which resulted in stunting was high in Balaka at 48 percent hence the Sun project to help mitigate the problem.
“Apart from encouraging the people to eat diversified food that meets the six food groups, we also encourage them to grow resilient crops such as cow peas, pigeon peas, cassava and sweet potato in order to avert hunger,” Chuma said.
He said most people in the area are undernourished as they consume less than 2100Kcal per day stressing that half of all maternal mortality is due to malnutrition.
Guest of honour at the open day, Balaka District Council chairperson Patrick Botomani, said although the area has been hard hit by hunger, people could still eat nutritious food by adopting modern cooking as espoused in the Sun project.
Sun started in 2012 with funding from Irish Aid and the grant holder is Concern Universal with government implementing the project in Dedza and Balaka.