Children under five years and lactating mothers in poor informal settlements around Nairobi city will benefit from a project aimed at developing healthy food snacks for improved health and nutrition status.
The project dubbed Lishe Poa was launched in a Nairobi hotel by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Nairobi county government and two other stakeholders.
Speaking during the event, the Principal Secretary (PS) Ministry of Health Peter Tum in a speech read on his behalf by Head of Preventive and Promotive Services Dr. Peter Cherutich said that rapid growth and urbanization of the country’s population has resulted in a changing poverty and food security environment in high-density urban areas.
“One third of Kenya’s population lives in urban areas out of which 40 percent reside in the informal settlements and have limited purchasing power which contributes to the inability to afford healthy diet by majority of the households in the informal settlements,” said um.
The PS added that the country is facing a triple burden of malnutrition with co-existence of under-nutrition, over-nutrition and micronutrient malnutrition.
“One in four children under five years is stunted, 11 percent are underweight and four percent are wasted (acute malnutrition),” he said.
He further said the government is committed to ensuring food and nutritional security for all Kenyans as enshrined in the constitution, National Food and Nutrition Security Policy and the Big Four Agenda.
“During the inauguration of the Big four Agenda, the President stated that the goal of the Food and Nutrition Security pillar is -to find a lasting solution to the multiple and inter-lock factors responsible for food insecurity and poor nutrition-,” said the PS adding that one of the targets of the Food and Nutrition Security pillar is to reduce stunting from 26 percent to 19 percent by the year 2022.
The PS acknowledged the South Korean government through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for supporting the Lishe Poa project through which a large network of manufacturers will be harnessed to increase access to healthy food.
“Additionally, the project has the potential to create jobs, businesses and opportunities in line with government aspirations in the Big Four Agenda,” added the PS.
The County Executive Committee (CEC)member for health, Nairobi county Charles Kerich, in a speech read on his behalf by the county Director for health Dr. Lucina Koyio said that acute malnutrition in the city-county has remained high with suboptimal infant feeding practices due to poor care practices.
“Food insecurity as a result of low household income levels predisposes people living within the informal settlements to coping behaviors such as reducing the number of meals, reducing food variety and quality and eating street foods,” he said.
KOICA Country Director Hye young Shin said they will impact the lives of 300,000 expectant and lactating mothers and children aged six to 59 months in targeted slums around the city in the next five years.
Concern Worldwide Country Director Amina Abdulla said that families find more convenient to buy street foods which have low nutrition due to the expensive process of cooking a meal.
The project, a public-private partnership initiative will run for five years and is funded by KOICA.
It will draw on the strength of key stakeholders in the nutrition sector under the stewardship of the national and county governments and the key implementing partner, Concern Worldwide.