Doctors with Africa CUAMM Tanzania, together with the local partner organization TAHEA, hosted the annual consortia meeting of “Accelerating Stunting Reduction Programme” from the 29th to 31st of January. Among local and international partner organizations, UNICEF and Regional and District Nutrition officers participated in the meeting.
Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation, as explained by the World Health Organization (WHO). Especially the first years of a child’s life, the first 1000 days from conception to the age of two, is a crucial period for timely intervention. “Accelerating Stunting Reduction Programme” aims to reduce stunting prevalence in the southern highlands regions of Tanzania: Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya and Songwe, where the needs are greatest among other regions of the country. With the coordination of UNICEF Tanzania, the programme has been implemented by three consortia, each one of them covering different regions; in particular, CUAMM and TAHEA are intervening in Iringa and Njombe.
As entering the 5th year of the programme, the final year, the main agenda of the meeting was to review the progress of handing over the activities to the respective local government bodies in order to ensure sustainability of the programme impact.
«The programme has gained its momentum. It is not only the partner organization who is leading the programme, but also the local government bodies have been deeply engaged, taking their ownership in nutrition issues. It has been a great team play» – claimed Ruth Nkurlu, UNICEF Southern regional programme coordinator, distinguishing the programme with other nutrition interventions around the country -. «Furthermore, because of the holistic approach of this programme implementation, meaningful behaviour changes are witnessed from the community level to the local government authorities».
Even though the programme is approaching its end, the need is still very high. The fight against malnutrition is not over yet. The Iringa Regional Nutrition officer appreciated CUAMM-TAHEA’s interventions in the region highlighting how it has strengthened the nutrition management system from the community level to the district and the regional level, sensitizing and empowering the local government authorities, which is the key to sustainability.
Sustainability cannot be achieved by working alone. Doctors with Africa CUAMM will continue its journey fighting against malnutrition alongside the local government and the local and international partners.