Archive for the Nutrition Category

Timber and Straw: The Story of a Village Clinic in Malawi

Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 at 10:04 am

By Michael Hanly, Desk Officer for Malawi and Zimbabwe, Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide is supporting village clinics throughout Malawi, making health care more accessible for women and children.

In many of the countries where Concern Worldwide works, health care services can be extremely hard to come by. Malawi is no different. Mothers often have to walk for hours to get to the nearest health center—a major barrier that keeps them, and their children, from getting care when they need it.

Concern is working to make health care more accessible to communities in two areas in central Malawi, Nkhotakota and Dowa. The point of the program is to prevent and treat the major killers of children under five years old—malaria, respiratory infection, diarrhea, and malnutrition—by working with the Ministry of Health to make sure there are trained health workers based in villages, not just in centralized health centers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Off the Grid: A Dispatch from Burundi

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 10:17 am

By Jennifer Weiss, Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

I started my work in Burundi around a year ago. Before I visited the country, I remember my colleague describing Burundi to me. “It’s off the grid,” she said.

Jennifer Weiss forgoes the van and continues her journey cross the rickety bridge on foot.

The comment struck me as odd. I assured her that I had lived in Africa before and was more than prepared for the work that lay ahead.  I couldn’t possibly understand what she meant by “off the grid.”

I quickly learned. Burundi, despite its geographic proximity to Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda, countries with growing economies and booming tourism industries, is heartbreakingly poor. In fact, Burundi is one of the world’s five poorest countries. I knew this statistic before departure. However, it wasn’t until I arrived in Burundi’s capital city of Bujumbura that I completely understood my colleague’s description. While in other capitals there are new businesses and construction, in Bujumbura there are none to be seen. When I asked a friend of mine who had been in Burundi in the ‘80s to explain how the capital had changed since then, she frankly responded: “It hasn’t.”

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Passing the torch of political commitment to reduce hunger

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Tom Arnold with children from Mankhwazi Village, Nkhotakota District, Malawi

I am writing this blog some hours after a wonderful young Irish woman called Katie Taylor won an Olympic Gold Medal for boxing. The country is ‘en fete’ and all our economic problems seem a little lighter.

Britain has had a wonderful two weeks of the Olympics.  The magnificent opening ceremony set the tone. Since then, the organization of the Games has been outstandingly good. British athletes have won more medals than anyone expected.

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth spoke about her ‘annus horribilis’ or her horrible year during her 40thyear of her accession to the throne.  Twenty years on, as she celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, this seems to be a year of wonders, an “annus mirabilis” for Britain.

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A New Commitment to Food Security from G8, but Empty Promises Remain

Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2012 at 7:58 am

By Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide

Tom Arnold with Beverly Oda of the Canadian International Development Agency and Etharin Cousin of the UN World Food Programme

I have just returned from a whirlwind visit to Washington, DC and Chicago, where I participated in a number of events around the G8 and NATO Summits focused on food and nutrition security.  Among so many world leaders and high-level representatives from civil society and academia, I felt a sense of critical mass beginning to form in the fight to end global hunger.

It’s a feeling I’ve had before – perhaps not this strong – only to be disappointed when promises went unfulfilled.  We must keep calling our leaders to persevere, especially those in the G8, to ensure that does not happen this time.

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In the wake of the East Africa crisis, will help arrive in time for the Sahel?

Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Paul O’Brien, Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide

Last week, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg announced a contribution of $33 million to support food security, nutrition and short-term cash assistance efforts across the West African region of the Sahel, bringing USAID’s total humanitarian assistance to the region to more than $270 million in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.  The announcement caused barely a ripple in the US media, and many who heard the news may have even asked ‘What crisis?’ or ‘What’s the Sahel?’  As aid organizations, it is our responsibility to issue and amplify calls to action to respond in the Sahel, and to broadcast the important message that coordinated action now will save lives and prevent costly interventions later – and we have the evidence.

Millet is the staple crop that keeps most people alive in Niger, but this year, drought and poor harvests threaten to leave 13 million people in need of emergency food assistance by April. Photo: Tim Peek for Concern Worldwide US, Tahoua town, Niger

Right now, a series of factors—including volatile spikes in food prices, failed harvests and cyclical drought—have triggered widespread food shortages across the Sahel, according to the USAID Famine Early Warning System Network. Levels of malnutrition among children under five have already reached the internationally recognized emergency threshold of 15 percent in parts of many affected countries, which include Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Harambee’ on World Humanitarian Day 2011

Posted on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 9:29 am

Anne a mother of four and guardian of seven came to Nairobi as a teenager in search of economic opportunity. Photo: Kenya, Concern Worldwide

By Kirk Prichard, Advocacy Officer, in Nairobi for Concern Worldwide US

World Humanitarian Day recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of those who give others help and hope. This year, it is a celebration of people helping people. In Nairobi, where I have been deployed on short notice to support Concern’s emergency response in the Horn of Africa, I see evidence of people helping people every day. And though international staff like myself are called on to contribute to the relief effort, it is almost entirely powered by Kenyans.

Concern’s Kenya team works in partnership with local organizations that are Kenyan-run, Kenyan-staffed, and crucially, implement Kenya-appropriate programs. It is through these partners that so-called humanitarians and aid workers—too often mistaken as solely western—are enabled to reach the poorest of the poor. Concern’s role is to monitor and assess programs, to provide technical expertise when and where it is needed, and to build the capacity of these local partners. We have been in Kenya since 2002, and we will be here for as long as that role is necessary. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pakistan’s Secret Weapon: Lady Health Visitors

Posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

By Joan Bolger, Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide US

3-year-old Zahida with son Sanam at the Concern-run Oral Therapeutic Care center in Rahuja Village, Sindh Province. Photo: Pakistan, Concern Worldwide

13-year-old Zahida tells me she cried through the night when her father came back from an evening of gambling and told her he had found a suitor for her in marriage. “I was used as the payment. He insisted because he had no other money to give,” she explained, clutching her 12-month-old son Sanam at a Concern-run center established to treat malnourished children in Rahuja village, in Sindh, Pakistan’s southern province.

Zahida walked for one hour to get to the center so that Sanam could be treated. Here, staff record weight and arm circumferences to determine the severity of child malnutrition. The rates in Sindh province are 18.8 percent, well above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent. In the worst affected areas in the province, Concern nutritionists tell me that malnutrition rates are as high as 50 percent.

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A Turning Point in the Global Fight to End Child Hunger

Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011 at 8:29 am

Maria Otero, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs speaking on June 13 during the morning session of the 1,000 days event in Washington, DC. Photo: Washington, Concern Worldwide

By Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide and David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

Today we join more than 350 high-level government officials, leaders of civil society organizations, and activists from all over the world to galvanize political momentum to scale up nutrition initiatives that will help save the lives of at least 1 million children annually.

During “1,000 Days to Scale Up Nutrition for Mothers & Children: Building Political Commitment,” we’ll discuss the critical importance of proper nutrition, particularly during the 1,000 days from pregnancy to 2 years old. Conclusive evidence points to the devastating impact of malnutrition on infant and child mortality, and its irreversible, long-term effects on health and cognitive and physical development. Read the rest of this entry »

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Harvesting Momentum to Improve Nutrition in Zambia

Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Concern promotes the growing of vegetables such as cabbage. Above, a farmer, Mufungulwa Kalunga, explains his success story to fellow farmers during a field day in Mongu. Photo: Zambia, Concern Worldwide

By Rakesh Katal, Concern Worldwide Country Director, Zambia

Zambia’s economy continues to show encouraging growth, which now stands at seven percent. And in the past year, Zambia’s agricultural sector produced a record food surplus, with a grain harvest of 2.8 million tons that literally overwhelmed storage capacity. This surplus was underpinned by subsidies for small-scale farmers, generous minimum price guarantees offered by the Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency and good rainfall in previous years.  Nonetheless, the very poorest and most vulnerable families are still struggling to survive.

The terrain in remote areas of Zambia is rough; to reach communities you must cross rivers, wetlands and vast swathes of sandy territory.  Concern is the only development organization working in some of these remote areas, such as districts in the Western Province. Read the rest of this entry »

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