Early in the morning, a big group of enthusiastic mothers arrived with their children at the launch of the “1,000 days” pilot project. In the coming three years, 3,000 pregnant and lactating mothers and 3,000 children aged 6 to 23 months will benefit from this project that aims to contribute to the reduction of chronic malnutrition rates in the administrative region of Labé. Labé is one of the regions in Guinea that is most affected by chronic malnutrition, where rates reach the critical threshold of 40 percent.
With funding from the Japanese Government, the project was officially launched by His Excellency the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene. The official launch of the pilot project took place in Tountouroun, a small village in the Labé region, but the project is also implemented in Dionfo and Dalein in the same region.
"This pilot project is extremely important because this vital public health problem remains invisible and very little has been done about it by communities, international NGOs and the Guinean Government" says Dr. Younoussa Ballo, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene. “As a result, chronic malnutrition remains a pressing issue. But the battle against it can be won” he added. Poor nutrition can affect school performance, economic productivity and earning power in adult life. However, the window of opportunity of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, counted from the moment of conception until the child’s second birthday can make all the difference.
Through a sketch on a conversation between two mothers and a health worker, the implementing partners of the “1,000 days” project (Club des Amis du Monde, the Regional Health Directorate and the Prefectural Health Directorate), explained why healthy food and hygiene practices are important to prevent chronic malnutrition. During the sketch, the health worker explained to the mothers that participating in the “1,000 days project” is free and will teach them good nutritional practices, distribute supplementary food for their children and hygiene kits to prevent diarrheal diseases. In Guinea, many people are illiterate so sketches are an effective way to communicate with local communities.
A young mother receiving a hygiene kit consisting of soap, chlorine and a jerry can. Simple rules of hygiene can help reduce the risk of getting diarrhea and malnutrition. This hygiene kit will help her to respect hygiene rules and keep away from disease. Besides the distribution of these kits, mothers also receive training on how to adopt healthy and hygienic eating habits.
A mother and her child holding the ration of Plumpy’Doz they’ve just received. Plympy’Doz is a ready-to-use supplement to traditional food adapted to the needs of children aged 6 to 36 months. During this important growth phase, children are most at risk of undernutrition. To help fight malnutrition, the “1,000 days” project distributes Plumpy’Doz to all children aged 6 to 23 months in the Labé region regardless of their nutritional status.
After the hand-out ceremony, the official guests visited an exhibition of local women’s groups. In Guinea, such groups play an important role in society and group leaders often help to spread sensitization messages about important themes such as hygiene practices, production techniques, and income generating activities.
A local women’s group from Tountouroun shows the agricultural products they are capable of producing. Throughout the “1,000 days” project, culinary workshops will be organized to teach women how to cook healthy and nutritious food with local products and how to prepare varied and diverse meals.
During the launch of the project, the official guests also visited the health center of Tountouroun. Health centers are crucial resources for pregnant and nursing women in Guinea. The “1,000 days” project aims to strengthen the capacity of such health centers to reinforce community management of malnutrition.
29 June 2011 WFP in Guinea