Sierra Leone SNAP Trains Mothers on Nutrition and WASH Best Practices
Mother Care Groups Empower Women and Improve Children’s Health
Over the last few years, Hawa McCarthy, a young mother of five in Mobai village, Kailahun district, received guidance on water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and nutrition through the USAID-funded Sustainable Nutrition and Agriculture Promotion (SNAP) Program. ACDI/VOCA implements SNAP with partner International Medical Corps (IMC). Before SNAP’s intervention in her community, Hawa says she had no idea about hygiene or how to prepare proper meals for her children. She worried constantly that one or more of her kids would fall ill from malaria or become malnourished.
SNAP Trains Mother Care Groups on Healthy Lifestyles
SNAP trained mothers on WASH and nutrition through mother care groups (MCGs). MCGs identified a lead mother, who received training from SNAP’s health promoters. The lead mother in turn shared the information with other MCG members. MCG training topics included how to most efficiently wash clothes, use soap while bathing, and prepare and cook food using locally available nutritious foods.
In 2016 SNAP has facilitated the formation of 180 MCGs comprised of 1,800 lead mothers who in turn cascade train to 10-15 group members, the screening of 39,263 children for malnutrition, and the distribution of 17,790 kilograms of Sierra Mix nutritional supplement.
SNAP Trains Women to Identify Malnourished Children
Mother care group members also learned about the causes of malnutrition and importance of exclusive breastfeeding and complimentary feeding using nutritious crops. Additionally, SNAP trained mothers on how to determine if their children, aged 6-59 months, are either malnourished or at risk of being malnourished, using the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tapes. SNAP has provided a food supplement called Sierra Mix to children in SNAP areas of operation found to be at risk or malnourished based on these MUAC screenings by caregivers trained by lead mothers.