Africare Partners to Feed the Future of Africa
June 16, 2012
The first 1,000 days of a child’s existence -- starting with a woman’s pregnancy and ending at a child’s 2nd birthday -- offer a unique opportunity to ensure a healthier and more prosperous future. The right nutrition can profoundly impact a child’s ability to grow, learn, and raise themselves and their communities out of poverty.
According to a recent study from Harvard University’s Program on the Global Demography of Aging, Africa is not only the youngest continent but in the next 30 years, two major factors will determine Africa’s future economic growth prospects: (1) growth in the working-age share of the population (young people) and (2) institutional quality. The former is directly impacted by whether the continent’s young people are raised to be ready to learn, healthy and fully prepared to be productive members of society. Simply put, if they are not healthy, the future of Africa is indeed bleak.
It is for this reason Africare continues to work to improve maternal and child nutrition. Healthy, ready to learn children are an essential foundation for the economic and social development of communities and nations.
Recently, Africare was selected to be the lead partner in a consortium charged with executing a $30 million, 5-year integrated nutrition program funded through the USAID Global Health Initiative (GHI) and Feed the Future in Tanzania. The program is called the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Project.
The Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Project (MBNP) will focus on improving the lives of pregnant women and children from conception to 24 months by directly supporting the implementation of the Government of Tanzania’s National Nutrition Strategy and the Agricultural and Food Security Investment Plan.
Today in Tanzania, a shocking 53 percent of pregnant women are anemic, while more than 35 percent of Tanzania’s children 0 – 3 years of age are stunted (low height for age). These numbers start to illustrate the troubling health condition of the country’s women and children.
Over the next five years, the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Project seeks to reduce the prevalence of stunting among children less than five years of age by 20 percent and reduce maternal anemia among pregnant women by 20 percent.
Africare has projects aimed at women and children across the continent, but the Mwanzo Bora Nutrition Project is our largest project.
Children are at the forefront of so much of our work at Africare, because we know that the disproportional burden of disease and poverty has traditionally fallen on women and children. And in the end, if Africa – or in any developing continent or nation - is to truly seize the opportunities of this new century, it must invest in the needs of women and children.
So this June 16th, African Children’s Day, let us remember the words of the Swahili Proverb: “A single hand cannot nurse a child.” Preparing for Africa’s future is about preparing Africa’s children to be educated, strong and optimistic. This is not the work of a single hand, but rather should be the tireless work of NGOs, multilateral organizations, villages, communities and nations.