Traditional complementary foods in most sub-Saharan African countries are deficient in protein, essential minerals and vitamins resulting into sub-optimal growth and increased premature deaths among children below five years of age. Poor quality of complementary foods is a long term problem in Tanzania where most children are born with the recommended weight but retard in growth after the introduction of complementary foods. On the other hand, there is a significant association between low maternal literacy and poor nutrition status of young children, aged 3–23 months old. A community-based field attachment program (cFAPA) was carried out to enlighten the Kagera rural mothers and caretakers on improvement of locally made complementary foods using available technologies and resources. The five months program focused on knowledge dissemination through meetings, trainings, outreach and radio programs in Muleba and Kagera rural districts. Demonstrations on preparation methods for the locally available foods to fit child feeding were performed where blanching and germination techniques were introduced. These were based on indigenous technology which is cheap and easy to adopt, effective in nutrients’ retention, increasing bioavailability of nutrients and reducing bulkiness. Villagers were eager to understand the underlying causes for high stunting rates in their region despite food availability. Some challenged the use of longhorn grasshopper (senene) to children worrying that it may cause diarrhea for its high fat content and to pregnant women worrying that it may result in overweight babies, leading to complications at delivery. Community health workers were encouraged to collaborate with members of the community in reporting mothers/caregivers who knowingly ignored proper child feeding principles leading to malnourished children. Dissemination of child feeding research findings proved to have the potential for behavioral change and positive impact in reduction of malnutrition rates.
Date of publication:
RUFORUM Working document series