Nourishing Filipino mothers and children
By Kristelle Bechayda
Last August 31, Rise Against Hunger Philippines launched the #2030IsPossible campaign, joining the worldwide movement that has already started in other countries. Apart from eliminating hunger, the organization also focuses on decreasing the cases of child stunting.
Undernourishment and underdevelopment
Based on the data of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 33 percent of Filipino children are moderately to severely stunted. Rise Against Philippines executive director Jomar Fleras says that in addressing this issue, pregnant mothers should also be fed aside from malnourished children.
“Stunting actually starts when the baby is still in the womb,” Fleras reasons. “So mothers should also be fed during their pregnancies to make sure they give birth to healthy babies.”
He adds that the child’s first few years are crucial for physical development and their progress should be monitored. To ensure the physical growth of the children in the communities they are helping, Fleras says they are fed regularly until they have grown healthily into their primary years.
Hunger is sexist
The executive director says that it is usually women who suffer from hunger first, even in family settings where there is somebody standing as the breadwinner.
“The males get the lion share,” Fleras explains. “Being the ones working, they are fed first because they need the nourishment. Meanwhile, women are the caregivers in the family and they sometimes don’t have enough food for themselves, even the children.”
As much as he wants to teach the women how to cook nutritious food despite being on a low budget, he sees no point in doing so. He can’t teach them if there is not enough food in the first place and this is a sad reality that has to be dealt with.
Taking collaborative action
To address child stunting, Rise Against Hunger Philippines is currently conducting the First 1,000 Days Program where pregnant and lactating women, together with babies ages 6 to 23 months, are being fed.
“We currently feed 200 women in Candelaria, Zambales and Porac, Pampanga in partnership with DOH Region III,” Fleras says. “There is improvement in the children’s nutrition. The babies have high birth rates and their mothers can breastfeed them properly. The children, on the other hand, have normal weight.”
Despite the positive results of their efforts, Fleras still stresses the importance for government organizations and private sectors to help in the movement.
“They should pitch in because if you don’t do anything right now, you won’t have a future. Food is basic. If you are hungry and you don’t get food in the next two to three days, then you die,” he ends.
For more information on Rise Against Hunger Philippines and how you can help, visit riseagainsthungerphilippines.org