The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has said through collaboration with development partners, its has injected a total of Kshs. 110 million to boost food and nutrition among pastoralist communities in Turkana and Marsabit counties in the last five years.
State Department of Crops Development and Agricultural Research Principal Secretary Prof. Hamadi Iddi Boga said that in order to tackle the manifold causes of malnutrition and under-nutrition in an integrated manner, the nutrition project connected measures from a variety of sectors, including agriculture, health, education, social protection and WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene).
Speaking at Kilimo House on Monday while receiving motor vehicles for the Agri-nutrition unit Food and Nutrition Security Project from GIZ, Prof. Boga said that interventions sought to educate women about eating a healthy, balanced diet while teaching them how to grow, store and prepare food.
“There was also focus on imparting knowledge about good hygienic practices in households and the provision of clean water to boost human health as healthy bodies absorb and use nutrients more effectively,” said the PS.
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He explained that the key achievements of the project is access to nutritious food where 10,685 rural people have been enabled to better access nutritious food through generation of cash income or through increased production of their own food.
During the period 10,685 men and women benefiited from training in various fields such as improving animal husbandry for milk production in the dry season, home gardening, management of wildly growing plants for food and fodder, Saving and Loaning Groups (SLG) and advised for income generating activities, operate micro businesses to generate additional cash incomes.
“At the Ministry of Agriculture we now have a unit on nutrition. In the past, the aspect of nutrition was left to the nutritionists but we realized that if nutritious food is not grown, then it will just remain to be information,” said Boga.
The PS added that for the communities in Turkana and Marsabit, it was all about educating them on the types of food varieties to grow at the household level to enable them to have proper nutrition because they were either relying on milk alone or maize alone.
“We have a template which counties can adopt on Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) interventions which can reduce all types of malnutrition by revamping food systems from production to consumption for improved nutrition outcomes.
The Food and Nutrition Security Implementation framework identifies strategic actions and the relevant actors responsible for their realization. The multi-sectoral Kenya Nutrition Action Plan (KNAP) 2018 to 2022 identifies key result areas to be achieved for the country to attain nutritional security,” explained the PS.
He explained that there is a concept called hidden hunger where one is fed but because they don’t feed on nutritious food, they don’t develop well especially for children and it affects their IQ among others aspects.
The PS said they have been encouraging the predominantly pastoralists communities to integrate farming which promotes a circular agriculture where livestock feed on the crops remains and the crops get manure from animals.
GIZ Agriculture and Rural Development cluster coordinator Dr. Paul-Mathias Braun said that they have been working in Marsabit and Turkana counties under the global initiative ‘one world without hunger’ which is aimed at improving food and nutrition.
“Our focus is improving nutrition for children and women. We have been working with 10, 000 households which means 50, 000 to 60, 000 people reached with access to nutritious foods and generation of cash incomes and working on hygiene,” said Braun.
He added that 300 nutritionists have also been trained in giving nutrition services to the locals which includes selection of locally available food, proper cooking methods and having a diverse diet especially for infants.
“We have trained 350 county staff and we have worked with 55 health units giving these services to the women in a regular basis,” he explained.
Braun said that they were also working on drought resistance where they trained 452 county staff on planning and constructing small irrigation sites.
“We had an outreach of 6, 000 households directly with irrigation measures and 24, 000 with veterinary monitoring especially in Turkana while incorporating flood irrigation which is a cheap way of saving the runoff water that comes with floods and directing them into fields for pasture or small scale agriculture,” said Braun.
He explained that the women were a good entry point because they were the ones left at home when the men were moving out to graze. “We worked with the women and introduced better goat varieties which produce more milk. We also introduced home gardens to diversify their food varieties,” said Brawn.