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Fighting malnutrition through homegrown vegetables.

MINGORA -- At the time when over 46 percent children under five years of age in Malakand division are affected by malnutrition, a 43-year-old woman in a remote village of Swat has rolled up her sleeves to provide nutritious food to her children.

Shama, a resident of Kotanai village in Khwazakhela tehsil, has 12 children. Her brother-in-law, who has an eight-member family, also lives in the same house. Shama's husband has a small shop and his earnings are lesser than the family's expenditures.

Owing to less nutrient food intake, Shama and wife of her brother-in-law gave birth to disabled children. Her family was identified in a survey for malnourished children and food deficient women by a local humanitarian organisation.

'At first I did not know the reasons behind my children's weakness and disabilities but later on I was selected in a programme for food diversification garden under which I participated in different trainings and learnt about malnourishment and nutritious diet and its benefits for women and newborn children,' Ms Shama told Dawn.

Swat woman also rears quails to feed her malnourished children

Following their instructions, her family became ready to spare a small piece of land to cultivate nutritious vegetables and rear quails so that that they could get nutritious food for their malnourished children and other family members.

She cultivated vegetables in her garden and worked hard to grow them. She also raised 200 quails to get protein-rich eggs and iron and vitamin-rich meat.

'It was unbelievable for us to see that my newborn baby became healthy and normal. The diseases in family were also reduced after we started using nutritious vegetables and quail's eggs and meat,' said Ms Shama. She added that she also shared extra vegetables with her relatives and neighbours.

Looking at her, many families in her village also started cultivating nutritious vegetables.

Ms Shama said that she shared her experiences at various forums and at ceremonies within the families and relatives. 'Now many families have followed me as they have established vegetable gardens and started rearing quails,' she said. She added that soon her area would be self-sufficient in nutritious food.

A recent survey shows that average dietary diversity score in Swat, Shangla and Kohistan districts is 3.5 per cent. The intake of vitamin A is 21 per cent, intake of protein is 24 per cent and that of iron is 36 per cent.

Similarly, the cereal intake in the three districts is 28 per cent, white roots five per cent, vegetables 18 per cent, fruits one per cent, organ meat four per cent, eggs two per cent, oil 10 per cent, sweets two per cent and spices condiments and beverages are 27 per cent.

To provide sustainable solution to food and nutrition insecurity in Swat, Shangla and Kohistan, Lasoona organisation imparted training to 168 people including 84 women, who established food diversification gardens on their lands.

It also trained 856 persons including 624 women on nutritious vegetables and food production.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Mar 1, 2018
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