Global Volunteers is committed to helping achieve zero hunger, improved health, and enhanced cognition in the Ukewga Ward of Tanzania so village children can reach their full potential. In 2017, at the invitation of and in cooperation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, we established the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Program – a child-focused, parent-driven, family-centered, and community-led comprehensive approach to development. In the past three years, we’ve seen dramatic improvements in child and maternal health directly relating to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the effort to achieve zero hunger.
The Global Challenge of Hunger Defined by the United Nations
Ending hunger by 2030 was crafted as one of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) adopted by member states of the UN in 2015. The full goal (Number 2) pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. The UN Hunger Report (State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI 2020) defines hunger as periods when populations are experiencing severe food insecurity—meaning that they go for entire days without eating due to lack of money, lack of access to food, or other resources. After decades of steady decline, world hunger has slowly been on the rise since 2015.
The Zero Hunger Challenge was launched to inspire a global movement towards a world free from hunger within a generation. It calls for:
- Zero stunted children under the age of two
- 100% access to adequate food all year round
- All food systems are sustainable
- 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
- Zero loss or waste of food
Global Volunteers’ Focus on Stunting
As an indicator of the distance to go towards zero hunger, childhood stunting is as serious as any major issue our world faces today. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2017, 151 million children under five were stunted, the result of insufficient food, nutrition and protection from disease in the first years of life. In Africa, up to 50 percent of children are stunted. These are the conditions the children we serve in rural Tanzania experience, where stunting reaches nearly 40 percent.
Eradicating Hunger in Rural Ukwega Ward, Tanzania
Global Volunteers’ comprehensive RPC Program begins with pregnancy and continues through the 18th birthday, focusing on the first 1000 days. We provide families and communities the knowledge, technology and encouragement needed to combat stunting and ensure children can realize their full potential. Food and nutrition are in short supply in rural villages, which contributes to stunting. Under these conditions, children’s physical and cognitive development are severely impaired – robbing them of their future, denying their country of essential intellectual capital, and perpetuating generational poverty. Stunting is preventable if adequately addressed before children’s second birthday. Afterwards, it’s most often permanent. That’s why the RCP Program focuses on the first 1000 days of life, and mobilizes volunteers to help deliver essential services when and where they can be most effective.
What Volunteers Do To Help Raise Children’s Potential
Short-term volunteers have proven to be a crucial element in helping reduce stunting in the Ukewega Ward by supplying and planting container vegetable gardens, establish chicken coops for protein, helping to acquire and distribute fortified meal packets, and teaching the basics of providing a nutritious diet in parent workshops. The primary staple in rural Tanzania is ugali, a dish made from corn flour. It is very filling, but alone, it lacks sufficient nutrition. To promote food security and nutrition, Global Volunteers’ RCP Program distributes fortified meals, household container gardens, and chicken coops and provides ongoing nutrition education to all RCP families. Two prepackaged nutritious meals donated by our partner, Rise Against Hunger, are provided daily to pregnant women, mothers and their babies, and preschool and primary school students.
Ongoing nutrition education
Short-term volunteers share their professional knowledge in health, nutrition, early childhood development, education, disease prevention, hygiene and child care through interactive workshops with pregnant women, mothers and grandmothers, and fathers and grandfathers. By transferring this knowledge to village parents, the community greatly enhances its ability to raise healthier children and raise its capacity for self-sufficiency.
Household container gardens
Global Volunteers has worked in partnership with EarthBox® since 2012 to improve nutrition by providing high-yield, efficient container gardens to families and students. EarthBox is a patented growing system incorporating various components to produce significantly better results than traditional in-ground gardens. Each RCP family receives up to six EarthBoxes. Tomato, cucumber, lettuce, green pepper, spinach, and Chinese cabbage seedlings are grown in the RCP greenhouse in Ipalamwa and transplanted in the boxes. Volunteers help families plant, maintain, and harvest the crops year-round so children can receive the essential micro-nutrients to fight stunting.
Protein is the most expensive component of villagers’ diets. Many families in Ukwega Ward don’t have a readily available source of protein, so they buy eggs and chicken to feed their families. RCP has invested in a chicken coop demonstration project that will provide coops and chickens to RCP families. Chickens and eggs are a powerful investment because they’re easy and inexpensive to maintain, are an excellent source of protein, produce fertilizer, and are a source of income from both egg and chick production. We will help families maintain and care for the chicks in the same manner as all other RCP technologies.
Fortified meals, EarthBoxes, chicken coops and nutrition education comprise a comprehensive program to fight hunger and childhood stunting. For every child who escapes the grips of stunting, the world unleashes valuable human resources that improves the family, community, country and the world. Everyone benefits. Help us break the vicious cycle of hunger today!
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