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Nancy Mukelabai

Reports and surveys conducted on food consumption assessment in Zambia have indicated that the rural communities rarely include meat products in their daily diets. Some surveys have actually revealed that inadequate dietary intake of dairy products is one of the major problems which contributes to malnutrition.

As food consumption is related to both access and availability of food, the government is always working on strategies to improve access to agricultural and livestock products. The successful implementation of activities depends on a multi-sectoral approach which has been recommended according to the 7th National Development Plan 2017-2021. This has departed from the sectoral based planning to an integrated multi-sectoral development approach for easy and quick implementation of programs.

The 1st 1000 MCDP which started its programs in Kalabo district in 2013, has carried out various activities according to the specified priority interventions to be scaled up by different sectors. These include sensitization on nutrition sensitive messages, trainings on hygiene and sanitation, improved agricultural practices, small livestock and fish production. All the conducted trainings were to enable a better understanding of nutrition and nutritional requirements at household level.

Along this vein of addressing malnutrition and stunting levels among households, the 1st 1000 MCDP through the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) movement has been working with the Department of Community Development in the distribution of goats to households who have children below the age of two years, pregnant and lactating mothers.

This is a pass-on program which results in several households benefitting and accessing livestock products, which will in turn result in the increase in consumption of livestock products.

Although this program is being collaborated by three sectors, it is being spearheaded by the Department of Community Development, while the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has trained the households on disease identification, good management practices and value addition in social and economic terms.

The main objective of the Department of Community Development is to strengthen hope in the vulnerable communities (groups) by providing various support to uplift their living standards. This department also conducts several other programs such as village banks, women empowerment, food security pack and self help. All mentioned programs provide loans, grants and inputs all aimed at improving the lives of the vulnerable in communities.

Ms. Inonge Nosiku who is District SUN Coordinator said that the pass-on program was collaborated with the department of Community Development in 2017 in five wards, namely Buleya , Luanginga, Sihole, Lutwi and Ndoka.

The target of pregnant and lactating mothers saw 95 households benefit one male and two female goats. This program was implemented in the mentioned wards for the beneficiaries to keep it running through passing on to other households who equally have pregnant and lactating mothers for the sole purpose of addressing malnutrition and stunting levels due to lack of or inadequate intake of livestock products such as milk and meat.

The selection of the beneficiaries involved the Ward Nutrition Coordinating Committee (WNCC) members and the local indunas.

Mr. Simasiku who is the District Community Development Officer disclosed that they are collaborating very well with the women as their participation is good and that they normally respond positively to so many programs.

‘’As a district, we have 125 beneficiaries for the small livestock pass-on program which involves goat distribution. The response from the households that have benefitted from this pass on program is overwhelming and the demand is still high. Now there a lot of goats in the villages as they keep passing on the goats to other households after giving birth,’’ said Mr. Simasiku.

Namakau Sendepawa of Njunga village is a beneficiary from this program. She is aged 27and a mother of four children. She first benefitted two goats in November 2017 when she was pregnant. When visited in January 2020 she disclosed that the number has since multiplied to six goats.

“My husband and I never had any goats before this small livestock pass-on program started here. From the two goats that we were given, we now have six and we have already given out some goats to the one who was the next beneficiary. My children now have access to goat milk which they enjoy very much and once in a while we sell to cater for other household needs,” Mrs. Sendepawa said.

Another beneficiary Biemba Kamizhyi of Katongo village who is also a mother of 7 children. She equally received two goats in November 2018 when she was pregnant. With careful management, the goats have now increased to nine.

Her husband Lenje Kazungo explained that he always takes the goats for grazing in the morning after 08 hrs to avoid moisture and brings them back home, he again releases them after 16hrs to avoid the heat.

“We appreciate this program as we are able to generate income from selling our goats when need arises such as school fees and we also use the goat dung for manuring our gardens. Our children now enjoy milk which we always have readily available. Its either we add it to their porridge or nshima, and at times we just boil and drink it. Our nutrition levels have improved as we can afford to eat meat together with the locally available vegetables,” Mr. Kazungo explained.

Mr. Simasiku further disclosed that most households that have benefitted from the trainings and pass-on program are able to share the knowledge acquired with other families. The program has seen the number of small livestock increase in the district among households and this therefore, has increased access and consumption of animal proteins and income generation.

“I urge the beneficiaries to take full responsibility and ownership of the program with good management practices to grow the activity, to sustain it and subsequently improve their nutrition,’’ he said.

Government continues playing its role of improving the lives of the people through such programs which empower rural households in terms of income and nutrition requirements. The integrated multi-sectoral approach accelerates development efforts through a coordinated approach within limited resources. NAIS

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