The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) trained 50 community volunteers (CVs) on community infant and young child feeding (C-IYCF) in the local government area of Ikara in the state of Kaduna.
Adams George, deputy state nutrition officer, explained at the start of the three-day training in Ikara on Sunday that the effort was to strengthen IYCF practices at the community level.
George said the volunteers included 45 CVs and five Neighborhood Development Community (WDC) presidents to promote adequate IYCF practices at the community level as an effective strategy for preventing malnutrition.
He explained that after equipping volunteers with the relevant skills, VCs should establish 45 support groups, one for each VC in their different communities.
“Support groups will have a maximum of 12 members, as such, each CV should establish a maximum of three support groups once the membership exceeds 12 for effective management.
“Through support groups, CVs will educate and enlighten mothers and caregivers on IYCF best practices for strong growth and healthy development in infants and young children,” said George.
Ms. Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, told the Nigeria News Agency (NAN) that C-IYFC was a proven preventative measure against malnutrition using locally available food items.
Ezeife said IYCF includes early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and appropriate complementary feeding after six months.
She said that UNICEF, in collaboration with the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Council, is currently supporting the implementation of the C-IYCF program in 17 local government areas in the state.
She added that mats would be distributed to CVs after the training for use in support group meetings for added convenience and comfort.
“This is in keeping with tradition and cultural means of coming together in communities to discuss issues, especially IYCF practices and other social development and livelihood issues that affect them.
“This is a community-centered approach where community members take the initiative to sensitize and mobilize other community members on IYCF best practices,” she said.
One of the facilitators, Ms. Chinyere Ekwueme, said the C-IYCF support group model was effective in reaching rural populations and improving IYCF practices.
Ekwueme said the strategy will promote community ownership and sustainability of the program in tackling malnutrition.
Neighborhood Development Committee Chair Sayasaya Ward Malam Abdullahi Alhassan thanked UNICEF and the Kaduna State government for mobilizing them to promote IYCF practices in their communities.
Alhassan said the training will equip them with the skills to educate members of their community, especially men, mothers and caregivers, about proper feeding for children.
“Many husbands in my community are capable young people. We will mobilize them and sensitize them to the need to help their wives to breastfeed their babies optimally and to provide adequate nutritious meals to the family, ”he said.
One of the volunteers, Ms Hauwa Sain, told NAN that she volunteered for the self-help program to promote adequate feeding of infants and young children in her community using food products. local.
According to her, this step will ensure the healthy growth and development of children to their full potential and will contribute in the long term to the development of their communities. (NAA)