Under-nutrition during the first 1000 days is a leading cause of stunting and has serious implications for a child’s future wellbeing and prosperity. The award-winning ‘RAIN’ (Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition) Project aims to identify sustainable, scalable and replicable solutions for prevention of under-nutrition and to influence international policy in relation to prevention of childhood stunting, It will also provide valuable learnings around integrated agriculture and nutrition in reducing child mortality and under-nutrition. Since 2011, Kerry Group has contributed €1.25 million towards this pioneering work carried out by Concern in the Mumbwa District of Zambia.
The first phase of the RAIN project has now concluded and the full impact of the programme over the last five years is currently being assessed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Initial results are encouraging and show that the RAIN project has resulted in a diversification in diet among participants, improved feeding practices among pregnant and lactating women and delivered a greater gender balance in household decision making, as well as in community and district structures.
Highlights from the RAIN Project in 2015 include:
- A 40% increase in the number of group meetings led by Smallholder Model Farmers
- 1,998 home visits to individual farmers, about 45% of the total number of beneficiaries
- Ongoing engagement with rural health clinics and environmental health technicians to deliver health and nutrition information including the provision of visual aids to support learning.
- Distribution of pumps and sprayers to enhance agricultural activities in light of the poor rainy season in 2014/2015
- Provision of 53 additional solar driers that help to reduce the time taken to dry surplus fruit and vegetables
- Partnering with the District Medical Office on the distribution of weighing scales to health centres to allow for the monitoring of children’s growth and to improve the rates of community outreach
- Rehabilitation of a further 10 boreholes which was of particular significance given the poor rains during this period.