Irene, 36, smiles at her 7-year-old outside one of the dotted grass-thatched houses in Tongwiri North village, Agago district, northern Uganda. The mother of four is a nutrition volunteer, elected by her community to implement GOAL’s Nutrition Impact Positive Practice (NIPP) approach.
“The community has entrusted me in supporting parents to adopt new behavioural practices and preparing nutritious meals for their families,” says Irene. “This, and ensuring proper household hygiene, will minimise our risks of suffering from malnutrition, especially for our young children under five years.’’
Nutrition Impact Positive Practice
NIPP is delivered under the One Nutrition in a Complex Environment (ONCE) study pilot project, supported by Tufts University in the United States, with funding from Feed the Future USAID.
As part of the project, Irene attended a 13-day training event, organised by GOAL, to equip her with the necessary knowledge and skills on how to prevent malnutrition. She also learned how to teach people about hygiene management and on the construction and use of a tippy tap (a homemade device used to clean hands), among other topics.
“I was delighted to learn different recipes for children over six months old and was able to apply this skill at home, since my youngest is a toddler. I also gained knowledge on maize farming – from seed bed preparation, planting, weeding, fertiliser application and post-harvest handling skills,’’ says Irene with pride.
Positive Early Signs
Irene is now applying the skills she learned to training and information sessions she runs in her community. She says that because of the training, members of her community are already very careful not to contaminate their water, something that would lead to regular illness. She is excited to see her community adopt other elements of her teaching.
“I feel proud that my teachings are beginning to yield positive early results in my community. A good number of our members are now also constructing pit latrines (toilets), fuel efficient stoves for cooking nutritious meals,” says Irene with a smile.
‘’I am very grateful to GOAL because two children from my sessions were malnourished, but both recovered because of the cooking demonstration conducted and the knowledge and skills the mothers gained.’’
The positive impact of the training is also being seen in her own home.
“My entire household now boils our drinking water – a habit that we never practiced before,” says Irene. “My husband has also acquired skills in maize farming, and this will enable us to become food secure and fight malnutrition in our household and community.”
Edutainment for Change
To build on her health promotion in the community, Irene recently composed a song on the prevention of airborne diseases like flu and Covid-19. And another song about early breastfeeding. This ‘edutainment’ has helped to reach parents and made her lessons more accessible. Many are now adopting the practices being sung about.
By implementing the NIPP approach, Irene is ensuring that her community members are being freed from the burden of malnutrition. She aims to continue to supporting mothers in her community even after the end of the circle sessions and has urged GOAL to continue with the project to reach more people.
“I hope GOAL continues this project and expands to other communities as this is project fights malnutrition, improves home hygiene and changes lives.”