children

Lira University to intervene as 35 per cent of children in Kitgum are stunted

(Last Updated On: 18 October 2022)

Lira University through Development Initiative for Northern Uganda [DINU] moves to develop food recipes to address malnutrition.


By Isabella Awor Olong

Kitgum – October 18, 2022: A survey conducted by a team of researchers from Lira University, Muni University and Palm Corps has revealed that 35 per cent of children born in Kitgum district in Northern Uganda after the LRA are experiencing stunted growth.

Aloka Bony, a principal investigator and lead researcher for DINU at Lira University said they are working together with Gulu University, Muni University and Palm Corps to develop food recipes to support malnourished children and those suffering from nodding syndrome.

The objective of the project is to increase the production of diversified foods following the LRA war that left the population, especially children and pregnant mothers susceptible without adequate food for consumption.

“As a result of poverty in Northern Uganda, most of the vulnerable groups like children are stunted and this has affected them in terms of food productivity,” Aloka said.

He explains that a baseline study was conducted showing that there is still a lot of malnutrition in Northern Uganda with 34 per cent of stuntedness among children below five years of age.

The survey convinced Aloka and the team to come up with interventions that will address poverty by increasing food production through diversified food recipes (porridge) and also promoting the food to have access to the markets so that the farmers are economically empowered.

“Most of our farmers produce food but how to utilize the available food made locally to improve the nutrition of their vulnerable members in the families is yet a challenge, this is why the program is dubbed DINU-CHASE Poverty and Hunger,” he added.

Aloka says Northern Uganda experienced a reduction in food production following the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency which cannot meet the demand of the many children born after the war, resulting in stunted growth.

He further explains that they are encouraging farmers and parents of children suffering from nodding syndrome to grow nutritive crops like soya, cabbage, and orange-fleshed potatoes which are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, energy and micronutrients for proper growth.

According to him, a protocol has been drawn waiting for approval by the ethical review committee before the recipes can be distributed for use by victims of nodding disease, and moderate and acute malnutrition.

The team also visited victims of nodding syndrome and assessed the types of food they are fed to inform them on the type of recipes to develop.

Angut Sabina, a resident of Lugwar village, Tumangu parish in Labongo Akwang sub-county in Kitgum district who is taking care of 3 children suffering from nodding syndrome welcomed the initiative. She says it will go a long way to improve the health of people suffering from the disease.

Adyee Margret is a resident of Mede village in Pajimo parish. She is also another parent of a child suffering from the same. Adyee asked the government to support them with recommended seeds to grow and support the health of their children.

However, Aloka explained that other consortiums like Palm Corps and National Agricultural and Research Organization (NARO) will be engaging farmer groups and communities to embrace this initiative.


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Amito Freda Oceng, nutrition focal person for DINU Project and also a lecturer at Lira University said almost one-third of children under five years in Uganda are stunted.

Stunting increases with age, peaking at 37 per cent among children 18–35 months. Stunting is greater among children in rural areas (30 per cent) than in urban areas (24 per cent) with some regional variations.

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Residents attend DINU, Lira and Gulu Universities’ joint meeting in Kitgum.

According to Amito, they are currently doing sensory evaluation tasting the developed recipes and how they would help people in the future. She said the sensory evaluation is currently going on in a few locations in Acholi and Lango sub-regions in Northern Uganda.

In Lango, the evaluation testing of the recipes is in Alebtong, Lira and Oyam districts, among others while in the Acholi sub-region, it’s in Pader, Kitgum and Nwoya districts.

The team is planning on addressing immediate needs and planning for the longer term to ensure that a better future for the people of northern Uganda is witnessed.

“We see the production of food like maize, cassava, sweet potatoes and much more as a means of helping the school become a self-sustaining, self-scaling and integrated development model to alleviate extreme poverty within the community, We believe every child deserves a chance to an education and it’s our passion to see children and the communities we support empowered and have their potentials unlocked through our work.”

Uganda’s prevalence is heterogeneous across the country, indicating that 3.6 per cent of children suffer from moderate acute malnutrition, while 1.3 per cent has severe acute malnutrition.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) last month said at least 518,000 people, or 40 per cent of the region’s population, were facing high levels of food insecurity.

Globally, in 2020, 149 million children under 5 were estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 45 million were estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 38.9 million were overweight or obese. Around 45 per cent of deaths among children, fewer than 5 years of age are linked to under nutrition.

What are the causes of malnutrition in Uganda?

The causes of food insecurity in Uganda are multifaceted, often a result of poverty, landlessness, high fertility, natural disasters, high food prices, lack of education, and the fact that a majority of Ugandans depend on agriculture as a main source of income.

The European Union is currently funding UNICEF, through the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) project, to strengthen nutrition governance for improved nutrition outcomes for children and women in Northern Uganda.

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