Improved Nutrition & Child Health in Democratic Republic of Congo
1) My name is Charlaine. I’m 32 years old and mother of four. Thanks to prenatal care and everything I’ve learned about maternal nutrition and feeding infants and young children, my twin babies are much healthier than my older children were. With my first two, now 7 and 4, I followed traditional feeding practices, which meant discontinuing breastfeeding and introducing solid foods at two months. As a result, my children were frequently sick and they did not grow well. We wondered if their stunting was the result of witchcraft or a curse on the family. The frequency of disease destabilized our household. Through the program, though, I learned the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. I am careful to practice good hygiene like washing my hands before handling food or breastfeeding, after changing the babies’ linens or using the latrine, keeping food protected from flies, and reheating food before eating. I have found that diseases that were common in my first two babies have disappeared. We have food now, and peace has returned to our home, which has allowed us to save some money for the education of our children. I am so happy to have been selected to educate other mothers during well-baby consultations based on my example of good nutritional practices.
2) My name is Masangu. I’m a 57-year-old farmer with eight children aged 2 to 22. I have a 2.5-acre farm where I’ve usually grown maize and beans. Although I worked very hard, I could not produce good crops to support my family. As a result, our family was very poor and did not have enough to eat. My children did not develop properly and are stunted. Last year, my 3 youngest were often sick with diarrhea, malaria and respiratory infections. We did not have enough money for our children to attend school and they are currently illiterate.
Prior to participating in the program, some of the traditional agricultural techniques I used were burning the bush to clear the land for planting, planting the same things in the same areas, and not protecting the soil against erosion. I also did not know that different crops needed different amounts of space, and I did not use improved seeds.
Through the program, I have received farm tools, improved seeds (beans, groundnuts, soya and maize), fruit trees (orange, mandarin and banana), and training and support in sustainable agriculture techniques.
The quantity I was able to harvest was very good and will make a huge difference for my family. For the first time in many years everyone is able to eat three meals a day and no one goes hungry. I can see that my children are healthier.
I am storing a big quantity of this harvest which I will sell when the price rises, and am also saving a portion to use as seed next season. I know that by continuing to practice what I have learned through this program I will be able to meet the needs of my family and will even be able to start sending my children to school.