AAP’s livestock sector for reduction of stunting and malnutrition in Sindh
SINDH is severely affected by intensifying malnutrition and stunting indicators.As many as 48 per cent children under the age of five are stunted while 35pc of them are severely stunted.
Malnutrition is not only confined to children but is also rampant among women of reproductive age suffering from anaemia, usually related to iron deficiency as well as wasting among poorer communities that are food insecure.
Maternal malnutrition not only leads to increased risk of mortality among women but also contributes to foetal growth restriction (small size of the baby during pregnancy) that, in turn, multiplies the risk of growth faltering and stunting in childhood.
The latter can cause long-term detrimental cognitive, motor and health impairments.
Accelerated Action Plan (AAP), a World Bank-funded programme under the Sindh Planning and Development Board, is continuing in 23 districts of the province with an objective to overcome the issue of malnutrition in mothers and children and possible solution to the problems resulting from it.
AAP focuses on international best practices to combat malnutrition by adopting nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions.
The participation of seven key departments is the hallmark of the programme as it enhances inter-sectoral collaboration and coordination among key sectors; strengthening multi-sectoral monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
Animal-source foods (ASF) are increasingly seen to play a vital role in providing high quality protein and important micronutrients to under-nourished people, particularly children and women of maternal age.
It is not possible to ignore goats, hens, milk and eggs when it comes to the nutritional needs of mothers and children in poor families as well as their nutritious diet and protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.
Experimental studies have shown that even small amounts of ASF provided to children regularly, such as an egg a day, can have very significant positive effects on children’s physical and cognitive development.
Not only the AAP-livestock department is providing goats and hens to the deserving families but also playing the key role in other nutritional matters, pertaining to livestock sector especially improving the nutrition situation.
Dr Nazir Hussain Kalhoro, Executive Director of Sindh Institute of Animal Health, Karachi & also Program Coordinator of AAP-livestock sector, who has a vast and varied experience of working in bodies such as World Bank & FAO, hopes to achieve positive results under effective strategies.
Due to his excellent academic and research performances, he has received the presidential ‘Izaz-e-Sabqat’ award.
Highlighted activities of AAP-livestock sector is to build livestock assets (goats and backyard poultry) of poorest households, social mobilization formation of livestock community organizations, livestock management and enhanced productivity awareness programs, vaccination and drenching to the livestock of poor households, and establishing a cold chain for vaccine.
In his recent media-talk Dr. Nazir said that provision of goats and hens to malnourished families not only received immediate benefits but also animals’ breeding occurred with the passage of time which multiplied the benefits to the backward families.
“Resulting, the families which were given five goats now possess 20 goats. Presently, these families have a considerable quantity of hens and goats.
About the performance and progress of the AAP-livestock department, Dr. Nazir told that a total of more than 16,000 families provided with goats and poultry birds have been given 50kg poultry feed in 17 districts of Sindh.
“Meanwhile, 233,000 families were counselled on livestock management, disease management and animal-rearing.
A large number of animals in 93,500 houses have been vaccinated to protect them from diseases.
For this purpose, 38 cold chain deep freezers have been provided in 24 districts to save vaccines.
We have achieved 77 percent of our targets and remaining 23 percent will be achieved this year.
Discussing the challenges, he said that a change in social attitudes is inevitable. “If women in rural areas get all their rights then many problems will not arise.
Misunderstandings related to nutrition should also be removed.
We often face problems related to finance but we are trying our best to achieve our targets steadfastly” he concluded. Dr Nazir’s thoughts were surely impressive.
Programmes like AAP are indeed an essential requirement for the betterment of malnourished communities in all over Pakistan.
—The writer is a poet and works for the humanitarian causes in Pakistan.