World Food Day is celebrated on October 16th every year. It marks a day of collective action by over 125 countries to encourage healthy and sustainable food choices for all as well as sustainable food production and distribution. Many communities around the world are increasingly impacted by the effects of climate change on agriculture, decreasing food security through flooding, drought and unpredictable weather. The communities we support in Nepal are extremely remote, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of human-caused climate change.
World Food Day aims to motivate citizens to make decisions that make a difference in their communities and help build a Zero Hunger Generation. Tackling malnutrition is at the heart of this goal and requires an integrated approach. At PHASE Worldwide we know that nutrition and health are intimately linked. Our previous project in Humla evidenced the success of linking these two fundamentals through health and livelihood projects that were community-led and sustainable.
Our current UK Aid direct funded project in Mugu, tackling malnutrition, builds on the needs of the local communities, sustainably addressing the immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition, predominantly in the under-5 and other vulnerable populations. This ‘left-behind’ cohort of children, adolescent, nursing mothers and the elderly are often most at risk of food scarcity impacting their health and development with chronic and debilitating outcomes. For children, their initial development may be affected by ‘stunting’, where lack of adequate nutrition hinders brain and body development. The consequences of this are life-long. For adolescents, decent nutrition is essential for developing into strong, healthy adults and for concentration on schoolwork. Have you ever tried to concentrate on something whilst you are hungry? Imagine this is a daily challenge when attending school or work.
For lactating mothers, lack of adequate nutrition can affect their milk production and the early development of their child, especially in the first 1000 days. Their health is also negatively impacted. For the elderly, insufficient nutrition can contribute to increased susceptibility to disease and illness. But it doesn’t have to be this way. PHASE Worldwide know from their previous project work in Humla and ongoing work in Mugu, that supporting communities to ensure good nutrition builds healthy communities. The clear focus on health through increasing availability of nourishing food ensures a strong foundation for all children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.
So how is this achieved? PHASE Worldwide understands that challenges and solutions are interlinked. By integrating nutrition into primary healthcare support and providing agricultural training in remote areas, communities can increase the amount and quality of their food production, providing sufficient nutrients to be healthy and prevent chronic diseases from arising. This is anchored by several components. Awareness of the issues linked to malnutrition (education), availability of technical support to address these issues (training, seeds, equipment) and future-proofing (sustainability, income generation and sharing knowledge).
Tackling the causes of Global Acute Malnutrition is essential for the health and happiness of the Nepali Communities we support, whilst ensuring that progress is made towards Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger in particular. Securing livelihoods through food security benefits individuals, families and communities. PHASE Worldwide supports communities to have increased food security all year round, a critical challenge in Nepal considering the seasonal climate, altitude and remote locations of communities. We support communities to develop resilient agricultural practices by embracing new techniques, expanding upon existing practices and by sharing successes through community support networks such as farmers’ group meetings.
This enables greater food security and increased nutritional intake, which benefits both physical and mental health. From increasing the use of polytunnels to protect crops from the harsh winters, to mushroom-growing and chicken-rearing, seed nurseries and micro-irrigation, communities are supported to improve their nutritional intake as well as improve their access to market through cash crops such as ginger, potatoes and bananas where appropriate. Food is a human right. We must continue to work towards a future in which everyone has access to it.
Happy World Food Day.