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An education in nutrition: Fighting malnutrition in Mali

In Mali, malnutrition threatens the health of children like Adama. But thanks to a 12-day nutritional training program organized by World Vision, mothers can learn how to feed their children balanced and healthy meals.

August 2010



Child malnutrition is a major problem in Mali, threatening the health of children like Adama, who was lethargic and tired from a lack of proper nutrition.
Child malnutrition is a major problem in Mali, threatening the health of children like Adama, who was lethargic and tired from a lack of proper nutrition.
Photo ©2010 Justin Douglass/World Vision

Adama looks alert and healthy for the first time in days. Her big brown eyes light up as she laughs. Relief shows on Mariama Konare’s face as she holds her 15-month child, a child who now grows stronger and healthier every day.

Nine pounds underweight

Twelve days ago, Adama arrived at the health clinic in Faladje on her mother’s back, looking tired and weak. She was underweight for her age and wanted to sleep all the time instead of play. Mariama waited in line with other concerned mothers, hoping for a solution to Adama’s tiredness.

After clinic workers measured Adama’s weight, height, and bicep diameter, Mariama discovered that Adama weighed only six kilograms, or 13.2 pounds. She weighed nearly nine pounds less than the average American girl her age. The reason: malnutrition.

Like many families in Mali, Mariama and her husband struggle to provide food for their children, and when they do have a chance to buy food, they must choose the cheapest option. Their staple diet during the rainy season is “taw,” a porridge made of millet.

“We don’t have money to buy food; when I [do] get some money, I buy spaghetti at the market,” Mariama says. “We don’t have enough to eat.”

Choosing more nutritious foods

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Since malnutrition threatens the health of many children like Adama in Mali, World Vision has organized a 12-day nutrition and cooking program to teach mothers like Mariama about important nutritional basics. Alphonse Dembele, a doctor from the health center in Faladje, leads the classes.

Using a flip chart with colored pictures, Alphonse explains the basic groups of food — proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids — and what makes a balanced meal.

Mothers learn how to prepare a nutritious meal for their malnourished children during a 12-day class through World Vision.
Mothers learn how to prepare a nutritious meal for their malnourished children during a 12-day class through World Vision.
Photo ©2010 Justin Douglass/World Vision
The mothers move on to cooking classes after the nutritional training. Each day, Alphonse teaches them how to cook a simple meal using seasonal ingredients; one day, the class meal consisted of potato, milk, mashed egg plant, green peppers, and lamb.

Now, 12 days later, Adama’s health has greatly improved with a weight gain of 1.4 kilograms, or 3.1 pounds. The change in Adama’s weight and energy delights Mariama and her husband.

“I am very glad my daughter put on weight. My husband is also very happy — everyone in the family is happy now. I know how to make a nutritious sauce and how to cook beans now,” she says.

Balanced nutrition

The 12-day nutritional program is a part of World Vision’s efforts in Mali to reduce malnutrition and improve children’s health. World Vision is exploring different ways to spread nutritional education, including hosting a nutrition broadcast at the local radio station in Faladje.

Adama Sow and her mother, Mariama Konare, smile after a day of nutritional training. Adama gained more than three pounds during the program.
Adama Sow and her mother, Mariama Konare, smile after a day of nutritional training. Adama gained more than three pounds during the program.
Photo ©2010 Justin Douglass/World Vision
With the help of this nutrition education, mothers like Mariama have the chance to improve their children’s health and give them better lives. Knowing the basics of a healthy meal is a small but vital step to eradicating malnutrition.

One mother, Monique Traore, expresses her gratitude over the difference that the World Vision program has made: “I enjoy nutrition activities because before the health training, children were malnourished, and now [the] children look very good.”

Despite her lack of funds, Mariama plans to put her nutrition education into action by growing a variety of vegetables in the future. Now, Mariama and Monique have the tools and knowledge to improve their children’s health with nutrient-rich, balanced meals.


Learn more


>> Read more about child hunger and explore the ways you can help address this emergency.

Four ways you can help

>> Thank God for invaluable nutrition programs that teach mothers like Mariama the basics of healthy meals and help reduce child malnutrition. Pray that other struggling families in Mali will be able to provide their children with nourishing food as well.
>> Make a one-time gift to help provide life-saving food and care to children and families suffering from hunger and malnutrition. You can help give the gift of emergency food, clean water, agricultural support and training, and more to those in greatest need.
>> Contact your members of Congress. Ask them to support the Global Food Security Act, which would make a significant contribution toward reducing hunger by investing in sustainable agriculture and nutrition programs.
>> Sponsor a child in Mali. With your generous support, a boy or girl in need will receive access to basics like food, clean water, shelter, and more, giving him or her a chance to build a better life.

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Learn more

Read more about child hunger and explore the ways you can help address this emergency.

Four ways you can help

Thank God for invaluable nutrition programs that teach mothers like Mariama the basics of healthy meals and help reduce child malnutrition. Pray that other struggling families in Mali will be able to provide their children with nourishing food as well.
- -

Make a one-time gift to help provide life-saving food and care to children and families suffering from hunger and malnutrition. You can help give the gift of emergency food, clean water, agricultural support and training, and more to those in greatest need.
- -
Contact your members of Congress.Ask them to support the Global Food Security Act, which would make a significant contribution toward reducing hunger by investing in sustainable agriculture and nutrition programs.
- -
Sponsor a child in Mali. With your generous support, a boy or girl in need will receive access to basics like food, clean water, shelter, and more, giving him or her a chance to build a better life.

 





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