World Vision scales up sustainable food and livelihood programs to address growing malnutrition

“It hurts me as a mother. I should be able to provide them with everything they need,” Carla Joy, a young mother of three, tearfully shares upon learning that her two-year-old son, Geo, is malnourished. “I was frightened when the healthcare workers told me he was underweight and lethargic. I don’t want him to end up in the hospital.”

Unfortunately, Carla Joy’s situation is not unique. Many Filipino families are burdened and challenged by economic instability, soaring food prices, and other post-pandemic effects. Carla reveals that their family has resorted to watered-down rice porridge and vegetables just to ensure everyone gets something to eat.

Anabel, a mother of nine from Cebu City, shares that they rely on instant food like noodles and canned goods to stretch a meal for the whole family. “Food prices have skyrocketed, and our family can no longer afford fresh foods. We can’t even afford to cook nourishing meals.”

In the Philippines, millions of children, and even adults, suffer from malnutrition. Dannadel Vilar, a World Vision Program Officer, explains that malnutrition is a serious condition in children’s nutrition that occurs within their first 1,000 days. It is a pressing health concern because malnourished children are more susceptible to illness, easily irritable, and experience impaired brain and physical development.

Malnutrition in the Philippines is one of the underlying factors affecting children’s health and, ultimately, their performance in school. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 95 Filipino children die every day due to malnutrition. Additionally, 27 out of 1,000 Filipino children do not live past their fifth birthday, and one-third of Filipino children are stunted in growth.

To address this growing health concern, World Vision, a child-focused global organization, has launched various initiatives focused on education, nutrition classes, feeding programs, and small-scale food production and backyard gardening for families.

One of their programs, called Positive Deviance Hearth in Cebu, is a health and nutrition program carried out in collaboration with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI). Children below the age of five are enrolled in these classes to rehabilitate their eating and hygiene habits. Additionally, malnourished children receive a nutrient-dense meal during the sessions, which is prepared and cooked by their primary caregivers using affordable ingredients found within the community.

Parents whose children participate in these nutrition classes also receive training on hygienic food preparation and are provided with livelihood assistance. Carla Joy, for example, received two goats as a means of support from World Vision.

“In the PD/Hearth classes, we also encourage parents to engage in backyard gardening so they don’t have to buy fruits and vegetables from the market. World Vision also builds water facilities like water towers, handwashing areas, toilets, and water pumps to ensure the community has access to clean water and proper hygiene practices,” adds Vilar.

Anabel is also part of the Urban Development Project (UDP) under World Vision, where partners and guardians are taught healthy meal preparation and hygienic practices. Within just 30 days of the program, Anabel’s child, NPJ, gained 900 grams, moving closer to the acceptable weight range for his age. World Vision continues to provide guidance and assistance beyond these classes, regularly monitoring the progress of enrolled children. Livelihood assistance, such as rice and vegetable seeds and kits, is also provided to families with malnourished children.

Through the backyard garden initiative, Anabel and other mothers were able to sell some of their vegetables, using the income to meet other family needs. “We not only saved money by no longer having to buy from the market but also earned from it,” she says, referring to their community garden. “I was really glad when World Vision arrived in our community.”

Meryflor, another mother, shares her gratitude, saying, “With the small space we have, I learned techniques like organic planting on recycled materials. It greatly helped reduce our everyday expenses because we now rely on our garden for our consumption.”

With the life-changing impact and success of these initiatives, World Vision aims to expand and scale these sustainable interventions to reach more families across the country. You can make a difference now! By supporting the organization with as little as Php 25 a day or Php 750 a month, you can help families fight malnutrition.

You have the power to truly impact children’s lives by increasing access to nourishing food. Become a proud World Vision Sponsor today.

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