Over 1,700 preschoolers in Emali, Kenya can now focus on learning instead of empty tummies, thanks to ChildFund New Zealand child sponsors funding a school meal programme.
Sponsorship funds have enabled the purchase of 3,500 kilograms of Unimix and 700 litres of oil for 32 early childhood development centres (ECDs) in Kenya, so that childen can have a nutritious meal while learning. Not only are tummies more full but child enrollment numbers have increased.
Due to the success of this ChildFund initiative, the local government in Kenya is now funding a similar programme. Unimix is a fortified corn and bean flour designed to fight malnutrition.
“Through ChildFund’s engagement and work with government agencies in Kenya, the district government now understand this significance of nutritious food at early childhood development centres,” says Quenelda Clegg, ChildFund New Zealand Director of Programmes.
Greenhouses, training and equipment have additionally been funded by ChildFund supporters and are making it possible for the ECD staff to maximise children’s nutrition by growing their own vegetables to combine with the Unimix.
Spinach, kale and tomatoes are among crops being grown at the centres and are being sold at local markets by ECD representatives to earn a reliable source of income to buy other food for the children.
The greenhouses are part of a ChildFund New Zealand project that includes the establishment of the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) plots and kitchen gardens across 32 ECD centres. The plots have also served as a demonstration ground for growing this new crop (and highly nutritious) crop, with training provided to parents and caregivers on growing the OFSP and improving family nutrition and dietary diversity. This also builds on an earlier project where training was given to 410 ECD teachers and child caregivers on proper food preparation methods and the importance of child nutrition.
Funds raised from Child Sponsorship enables ChildFund New Zealand to keep working in Emali, Kenya. A key focus there is giving children access to better nutrition, reducing their risk of malnutrition and giving them more energy for education and other activities. High malnutrition rates negatively impacting the cognitive, development and immunity of young children along with increasing child absentees.
ChildFund New Zealand is working to a Road Map planning document with the Emali community to support their self-reliance by 2026. Like all the work that ChildFund does, initiatives are designed to empower and mobilise the community. Project goals are established and identified through community consultation and projects are carried out in conjunction with the Kenyan Government and other local partners to ensure long-lasting change.