Food to Know, Seeds to Grow

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Food to Know, Seeds to Grow

Lubumbashi, Congo (Kinshasa)
Year Founded:
2009
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

AMKA fights the root causes of child malnutrition in the southern rural area of Katanga, DRC, by: 1) improving food knowledge, through the training of mothers on nutrition principles, 2) promoting a nutrient-rich agriculture, through the creation of community gardens for high-protein crops.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In the southern rural area of Katanga, 25.4% of children under 5 years old are seriously malnourished. An internal study showed that child malnutrition in this area is not due to a lack of food in general, but to a combination of different factors: a protein-poor diet, inadequate farming techniques, a lack of local knowledge on weaning and family planning, as well as an insufficient awareness on the nutritional properties of common local foods.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The project aims to face the problem through 2 levels of intervention: 1) Training of mothers on weaning, nutrition principles and the preparation of high-protein foods. Awareness campaigns use creative methods, such as songs, games and cooking classes where mothers learn new recipes for highly nutritive dishes, in a spirit of enjoyment and collaboration. 2) Creation of community gardens to introduce new crops such as soya, groundnuts, and beans. The harvest is divided into 3 parts: the first third is given to the Health center in Kanyaka, for children in care at the Nutritional Unit; the second third stays with the villagers who have worked the field (for sale or self-consume); the last third is kept as seed for the next sowing season.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In January AMKA visited the village of Fipango, where Mama Geltrude took part to the awareness campaign on how to recognize and prevent child malnutrition. She found out that one of her children, Kisimba, 2 year old, was seriously malnourished, so she brought him to the Nutritional Unit in Kanyaka. While there she took free cooking classes and learned new high-protein recipes. Her husband together with other farmers agreed to work on a community garden in Fipango. They received from AMKA peanuts and beans seeds, as well as the technical support from an agronomist. Today Geltrude knows how to prevent that one of her children will fall back into malnutrition. With the harvest of beans and groundnuts, Geltrude can now properly feed her family.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

To date, 4 community gardens growing nutrient-rich crops have been started, and more than 800 people have participated to AMKA’s awareness campaigns on child malnutrition. The success of this pilot project has encouraged us to scale our prevention-focused approach. “Food to know, Seeds to grow” will help AMKA start 10 new community gardens and offer trainings and awareness campaigns on weaning, nutrients, and preparation of high-protein dishes to 3000 mothers. The local community overall will benefit from a more nutrient-rich agriculture, empowered farmers, a diffuse local knowledge of nutrition principles, and an increased food security. As a consequence, in 1 year time, we envisage a decrease of 40% of cases of child malnutrition in the region targeted by AMKA.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

After the first supply of seeds from AMKA, farmers won’t need more gifts, because the harvest will be partially reused for the next sowing. Thanks to the technical assistance they will receive, farmers will also be able to experiment new farming techniques and replicate them in the future also in family gardens. Awareness campaigns on nutrition will have a long-lasting impact: the knowledge gained by mothers will spread in their communities.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Different organizations that try to counter the child malnutrition in Congo, focus on limiting the emergency by providing nutrients to malnourished children. Some ready-to-use therapeutic formulas, such as Plumpy’nut, are able to rapidly treat cases of acute malnutrition. However, after a child recovers, his family is left with no means to prevent relapses or the occurrence of new cases. AMKA wants to address the underlying causes of child malnutrition. By providing locals with knowledge, seeds and technical training, “Food To know, Seeds to Grow” encourages self-reliance and food security.
Team

Founding Story

In summer 2010, AMKA’s volunteers readapted a Swahili song on food and nutrition properties of local food. They taught it, just for fun, to some of the mothers whose children were hospitalized at the Nutritional Therapy Unit in Kanyaka. The song started soon to be sang by all the community, also children liked to sing and clap it. While singing, the message passed: “Each food has a specific nutritive property that is important for our body”. Seeing the success of the song, AMKA’s team realized the importance of involving the population with fun and simple activities that could teach them some practices to prevent child malnutrition and relapses. That was the moment were the project “Food To know, Seeds To Grow” started gaining shape.

Comments

Dear AMKA,
You are pursuing a good idea of helping malnourished children, but I have several questions and recommendations.
Qs:
1. Who pays for the seeds that you provide to the poor families:
2. Where do you get these seeds;
3. Are the seeds GMO;
4. Can the established gardens provide enough seeds for the next years, or do you have a nursery?
5. Are the provided seeds local or they are imported;
6. How the project sustainability is ensured.

My own experience shows that all the local species are much pest and disease resistant; serve much better to the local population and especially the landscapes. Please do escape GMO seeds.

Wish you all the best
Ruzanna

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