A girl waits to be weighed at the Nyamagana District Hospital in Mwanza Tanzania. She and others were weighed as part of a nutrition screening program at the hospital.

In Tanzania, it takes a village to raise a well-nourished child

  • Gary Fields
  • Jul 24, 2019

The life of Sophia Clement’s unborn daughter was in jeopardy, and she didn't know it.

Clement's work as a hard laborer, combined with a lack of prenatal nutrition, critically hindered her baby’s development.

Hilda Robert’s 3-month-old son was also in danger of the life-long effects of malnutrition, after he was fed porridge instead of more nutritious breast milk.

These Tanzanian mothers have two things in common. Both were feeding their children the best way they knew how. And now, because of you, they both know better.

As Lutheran World Relief joins IMA World Health, two experienced organizations are bringing the best in sustainable development and public health to communities in need.

Mothers learn to cook nutritious foods together during the hearth session.

Community-based solutions to stunting

“IMA World Health’s work in addressing stunting reflects the best in community-based solutions to a major public health problem,” says Daniel Speckhard, President and CEO of IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief. “These are the kinds of communities where we hope Lutheran World Relief’s experience in promoting sustainable agriculture and livelihoods may build on IMA’s work to bring lasting solutions to poverty.”  

Those lasting solutions begin with the kinds of critical interventions IMA World Health has been using in its Addressing Stunting in Tanzania Early, or ASTUTE project. The UK Aid-funded effort has guided more than 4 million mothers and other caregivers in feeding young children properly, perhaps saving a generation from mental and physical developmental delays.

“Stunting is a major threat to the health and economic development of Tanzania,” the Honorable Deputy Minister of State, Selemani Jaffo, said at the program’s launch in 2016. “It is negatively affecting our children’s early development and ability to learn.”

Mothers come together to discuss basic feeding and care techniques under the ASTUTE program. The monthly gatherings promote food safety and nutritional meals for young mothers and their children.

Taking health to hearth

Bright Daudi ran that risk. His mother stopped breastfeeding him when he was three months old, switching to porridge because she thought her breast milk was dirty. His weight deteriorated slowly over the next three months. He was lethargic. Even the local hospital couldn’t help.

A chance encounter with an ASTUTE project community health worker brought Bright’s mother, Hilda Robert to a hearth session, a gathering where mothers can learn about stunting and how preparing locally-available foods can stop it.

Today Bright is an active 13-month-old: plump, smiling and growing normally. And his mother, Hilda Robert, now knows how important nutritious foods are to his development.

“Look at him now. He is happy and charming in perfect health,” Robert says of her son, now 13 months. “I will always be grateful for what I learned in the hearth session. I have learned how to prepare food and feed my child.”

Bright gained weight quickly with the right foods

Strengthening fragile communities

Addressing chronic malnutrition is only the beginning of eliminating poverty in fragile communities. With your help, Lutheran World Relief and IMA World Health can ensure Hilda Roberts’ family and scores of others have access to support growing food, earning income, building sustainable livelihoods and more – the tools families need to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and into stronger futures.

“We want to surround these with the best in care,” Speckhard said. “Your support helps us to reach the world’s most fragile communities, and make a real difference in their futures.”

Gary Fields, Jul 24, 2019 email