What is stunting? And why should we know about it?
Significantly stunted growth and development, caused by chronic undernutrition, threatens almost a quarter of children around the world.
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There has been no rainfall for months. Every 200 metres are dead animals. The earth is scorched and cracked; there is no sign of the rains coming, making it difficult for many people to plant crops. These are no conditions for mums-to-be.
Nasibo Asuran hasn’t eaten any food in three days except for a small cup of goat’s milk that she shares with her two children at bedtime to keep the hunger pains at bay while they sleep. The drought has ravaged her village of Manyatta Jillo in Marsabit, Kenya, since October, making feeding herself and her family almost impossible. Any food left over from last year’s harvest is gone, her livestock are too emaciated to be sold at market and there are no jobs available in the community.
To make matters worse, Nasibo is six months pregnant and barely has enough energy to get out of bed in the morning.
Concern’s ‘Through to 2’ scheme is supporting pregnant mothers like Nasibo by providing food or cash transfers. While we were visiting, we brought her a food basket with enough oil, salt, grain and maize to last her a month.
We are also working with the Ministry of Health in Kenya and providing care from clinics in rural communities like Manyatta Jillo. The clinics ensure expectant mothers get the necessary support they need to prepare for the arrival of a baby during difficult times. To alleviate some of her fears, Nasibo and her unborn baby’s health are monitored regularly at the clinic. She has also been given a tetanus vaccination, had her blood checked and received a combination of folic acid and iron tablets.
I have visited the clinic three times now and I will go again before I give birth. The last time I was there, they told me that even though I have no food, my baby is healthy. I am glad about this.
Concern also supports the implementation of ‘birthing partners’ in the community, where experienced mothers look out for young mothers, providing support and advice before and after pregnancy. Nasibo’s birthing partner is Namoruru Lobun, who at 71 has helped deliver over 30 babies in her village.
Namoruru helps me a lot. She has a lot of experience. When I get to talk to her, I feel good. She lives close to me, so if I have problem I know she is there. Her kindness makes my pregnancy better.
Jennifer – Concern’s International Communications Officer who met Nasibo – reminisces about her own pregnancy.
“My daughter is only one a half, so my own pregnancy is fresh in my mind. I was worried about the health of my baby – just like Nasibo – but I had a hospital in a developed country to go to, with lots of doctors, nurses and enough food available to last me a lifetime. My heart went out to Nasibo when I visited her village. She has to worry about feeding her two children and her unborn baby. There has been no rainfall for a few months and they have less food harvested than last year. Every 200 metres in the rural villages of Marsabit I saw dead animals, dying from the drought. The earth is scorched and cracked; there is no sign of the rains coming and so difficult for many people to plant crops. If you are expecting a baby, you are trying to prepare your house and make sure you have enough of everything. Nasibo doesn’t even have enough food for the week and has no way of ensuring she will have enough food when the baby is born.”
It is stories like Nasibo’s that motivate us to keep going; to continue supporting babies ‘Through to 2’ and to do our best to make sure mothers have a healthy, positive experience. We are committed to helping mums-to-be throughout the birthing process, ensuring they and their newborn babies have the appropriate medical care. But we can’t do it without you.
After her baby is born, Nasibo dreams of planting more seeds for harvest and setting up her own shop. She had a small shop before, but had to close it. She tells us that if the rains come back, she’d like to revive her business and continue farming.
I will be able to eat oranges again with my children and we would all be happy.