The Kaduna State Government has lauded Alive and Thrive (FHI360), an NGO, for mobilising men to provide adequate nutritious food for feeding of infants and children in the state.
The state Nutrition Officer, Hajiya Hauwa Usman, made the commendation on Wednesday at a one-day feedback meeting on `Alive and Thrive Implementation Research’ to engage men in the feeding of children.
Usman recalled that the NGO had in February, engaged `I Care Women and Youth Initiative to mobilise at least 6,000 fathers to promote appropriate infant and young child feeding.
She noted that several interventions and mobilisation to address malnutrition in the state focused on the women, leaving the men on the sideline as onlookers, despite their status as head of the family.
She said that the research, being conducted in Igabi Local Government Area of the state, was designed to specifically engage fathers to provide minimum dietary diversity for children six to 23 months.
According to her, the step has provided the needed boost in the fight against malnutrition in the state, adding that the war shall be won if men are convinced to join the fight and do so accordingly.
“The state government have carried out several interventions and expended huge resources with support from development partners to fight malnutrition, but with minimal success because the fathers were excluded.
“I am confident that we will record significant progress in no distant time now that the men are being mobilise to support their wives in providing the needed foods for their infants and young children,” she said.
The Project Manager, I Care, Mr Abdulrahaman Mikail, said the research was tagged “Engaging fathers of children aged six to 23 months, through a package of Community-Based Interventions to Improve Complementary Feeding Practices”.
Mikail explained that the goal was to motivate fathers to procure diverse foods to support appropriate complementary feeding that would provide children six to 23 months with the needed nutrients and vitamins.
“Findings show that fathers provide the financial resources for mothers to purchase the needed variety of food groups for the family while grandmothers teach the mothers how to cook.
“We want fathers to support mothers to exclusively breastfeed their child, but after six months of exclusive breastfeeding, the family is expected to introduce appropriate complementary feeding.
“This is because breast milk will no longer be sufficient to meet all the nutritional requirement of infants, and fathers are also required to play a crucial role at this level,” he said.
He said that I Care has concluded all preparation for the research, mapped out 7,240 fathers and would soon commence the research.
He added that for the success of the research, I Care would train 177 field officers, including Community Health Extension Workers, religious leaders, community volunteers and Community Based Organisations, among others.
Mrs Sarah Kwasu, the state Team Leader, Alive and Thrive, said the research was crucial in determining the key role that fathers could play in improving the nutrition status of children.
“We mostly excluded the fathers, forgetting that they provide the financial resources and decide what the family eats.
“The research will help us to measure changes in fathers support for dietary diversity in rural areas in the state before and after the intervention.
“It will also help to determine the percentage of children six to 23 months that had access to minimum dietary divert within the research area,” Kwasu said.
Some of the religious leaders, community volunteers and community-based associations at the meeting pledged their full support for the success of the project, noting that it is the responsibility of fathers to properly feed their children.
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