Maternal mortality is higher amongst the malnourished mothers. Inadequate nutritious foods as well as poor health care during pregnancy may consequently lead to reduced mental capacity for the foetus and a stunted adolescent in the future. Undernourished children whose mothers were undernourished may also have high chances of getting chronic illnesses in their adult lives.

Adiodun and Bishop Simwa

Adiodun and Bishop Simwa

Dr. Paul Amuna, a nutritional expert and an Associate Professor at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom recently demystified the links between nutrition and ones future life. He noted that poverty was an issue that most of the Sub-Saharan Africa populations were grappling with and thus making it difficult for them to deal with the issues on nutrition. The double burden of disease and poverty is sadly the plight of many in Africans, he stated.

“For instance, it has been well established that a small mother is likely to produce a small – low birth weight baby – who may also most likely be stunted. There is a vicious cycle of small baby, underweight and small adolescent and adult. But in-between factors such as a child’s feeding and health care, support as well as food and nutrition may influence the overall outcome. During the pregnancy the baby develops survival mechanisms and thus the importance of nutrition,” stated Dr. Amuna.

He stated that Africa has extensive nutritional crops that if utilised well, cases of malnutrition will be a thing of the past in the continent. In his view, Africa should be able to produce its own recipes of some of the continents finest nutritional foods for its people.

“Recently in South Africa, we went around different villages collecting various plants trying to study them to discover their nutritional values. We were able to come up with different foods based on sound knowledge on nutrition and this helped to empower the various communities there. A pumpkin project for the elderly was also started in Sharpeville South Africa as we sought to teach the communities the nutritional value of the leaves that can be used to make soup rather than just waiting for the pumpkin to mature. A school garden was also started in

Bishop Dtsheko Enole from Bostwana and Amisi at the conference

Bishop Dtsheko Enole from Bostwana and Amisi at the conference

the same country focusing on the beans and their leaves nutritional value,” stated Dr. Amuna.

“Africans should be able to write their own recipes. There is a lot that we do not know about our own local delicacies. We need to learn and perfect them as they are culturally acceptable and their nutritional values are unparalleled. We can process our own food and we should not wait for the multinationals to do it for us, we can do it. Africa needs to make a health and development case approach for nutrition. In Ghana for example, the government has put up a 60 million dollar factory for sprinkles. We need to sell African products. Church leaders if you can sell the message of God, why can’t you sell the message of the things that God has given us,” he added.

During his presentation at the recently held Consultation on Growing the Harvest in Limuru via teleconferencing, he noted that smart agriculture merely meant working with people to ensure that they produced food that was culturally acceptable and had nutrients. In his view, experts on these issues need not be sought from afar as the different churches represented in the forum had technocrats in their midst whom he stated should be in the forefront of spurring such conversations for tangible results to be realised.

“Michelle Obama has her own garden project that feeds the White House. She plants most of her vegetables. If she can, why can’t we do it also in Africa?” ponders Dr. Amuna.

He noted that there had been several concerns on some of the best practices to follow in order to counter some of the poverty related issues.

“We need to organise ourselves properly and find solutions to our problems and ensure that the voice of the small person is heard. We may have national nutrition policies yet we do not understand how they are implemented. The question is what role are we playing in influencing how the processes are carried out. Africa’s solution to malaria is not mosquito nets. Some of the mosquitoes actually bite humans before it’s dark and thus not useful at night. Various solutions lie therein,” states Dr. Amuna.

He reiterated the importance of everyone to champion the knowledge they have acquired on nutrition as a proper advocacy strategy lacks. He identified schools as a core channel for passing the message across. He lauded the various UN agencies for taking a keen interest on these issues through advocacy on nutrition and especially with the adoption of the “Scaling Up Nutrition” (SUN) concept.

Pastor Keneth Ambani-Kenya -

Pastor Keneth Ambani-Kenya -

He stated that nutrition should be a key agenda in the various policies for countries in Africa and this can be done by identifying key leaders who can be able to push these agenda’s in the various countries.

The Moringa tree which has received praise for its ability to cure many illnesses with some saying that it could cure over 300 illnesses has already found its way abroad for its nutritional value. Dr. Amuna noted that that was sufficient proof that products from Africa can be widely accepted.

Urban farming was also mentioned as a way of ensuring that nutrition was practiced. Countries like Egypt were noted to have been able to do urban farming by planting crops on roof tops and thus increasing their food sufficiency levels.

That even with small acreage land, it is possible to bring make headway in farming nutritional foods.

Fiona Imbali, OAIC Communications.

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