The International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) has hailed the vital role played by women farmers, farm workers, entrepreneurs, caregivers and community leaders in the rural settings; a role which has made them the backbone of rural societies.
The executive director of ISMPH, Mrs. Moji Makanjuola said this today (June 21, 2022), at a three-day skill acquisition programme for 30 vulnerable women against malnutrition supported by the European Union Agent for Citizen-driven Transformation (EU-ACT) in Barangoni -Yiku village, Bwari area council, Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) data, an estimated 2 million children in Nigeria are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
The data also revealed that only about two per cent of the children have access to treatment.
Nutrition experts have also identified micronutrient powders as useful supplements to fortify foods where micronutrients are insufficient to promote optimal growth in children or pregnant women.
Makanjuola, who was represented by the programme director, Mr. Solomon Dogo said that almost in all settings women make crucial contributions to food production, food processing and marketing.
“Indeed, because women produce, process and prepare much of the food available, they are critical to the food security of their families and their communities,” she explained.
She said that rural women’s skills and energy permeate all parts of the food system and remained key to fostering sustainable agricultural diversification, promoting bio-fortification, reducing food loss and waste, and supporting food processing for improved nutrition as well as food safety in any society.
The executive director said that the skill acquisition programme was empowering 30 vulnerable women whose children were malnourished with life-saving skills to help equip them to fend for their children and themselves.
She said that empowerment for women can not be overemphasised, as it is something very important that can disrupt so many negative stereotypes like malnutrition in children under five.
“The project is to see how we can curb malnutrition in FCT by training and empowering women on how to produce organic fertilisers and other products so that they can have a means of livelihood. Because we have noticed that one of the problems causing malnutrition is poverty.
“Most of them do not have the means to solve or to take care of their children’s nutritional needs. So, we decided that we were going to train the poorest of the poorest women whose children are malnourished. So that they can have life-saving skills. This project funded by the EU acts as the European Union Act project.
“This is the first phase. We are training 30 vulnerable women. You know, after this, we hope that the women through the community leaders will continue to train and retrain others on these particular skills.
“Subsequently, we hope that we’ll have more women through the community because we want to have the community on this particular initiative, as it is owned by the community.
“The village head and the chairman of the area council are also involved. We have met with all of them and all of them are providing support to ensure their sustainability for this project.
“We are going to provide them with a machine that will be used to produce these organic fertilisers after training they will use the machine to practice as they’ve been trained. After the training, the machine will be left with them and that is what will be used to produce these items.
“We also have arrangements on who will be buying the products immediately they produce. So, it depends on the women and the number of products they have.
“We have people that will continue to buy these products from them and, then, as I said, we’ll also want you to know that we will also avail them the opportunity to market these products on radio stations and TV stations so that people will know that such things are being produced and can go directly to buy from them,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries and the deputy women leader of Barangoni, Mrs. Vera Manase, said this training would help the women in no small measure to alleviate their poverty.
Manase said they were predominantly farmers and their land was no longer fertile. However, they could change all that with the training on organic fertiliser.
“We will use new skills to boost our farm produce. We hope to have a bumper harvest next year,” she said.
Another beneficiary, Mrs. Joy Yeni said she could not breastfeed due to a complication in her breast and added her child was malnourished due to a lack of alternatives to breast milk. Yeni, however, expressed optimism that at the end of the training, the solution would come to alleviate her suffering and would be able to feed her child properly.