The food security and nutrition situation in Cameroon remains worrying. Cameroon is home to 23.7 million people, 40% of whom live below the poverty line. Poverty is concentrated in four regions: the Far North, the North, Adamaoua and the East. These same regions are those severely affected by food insecurity. In fact, OCHA (the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) reported a 189% increase in food insecurity between 2013 and 2016 and stated that 2.6 million people in Cameroon were food insecure in 2017. This situation is due to repetitive shocks such as the continuous influx of refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria, increasing insecurity and natural disasters in a context of lack of global basic services. Cameroon is the country which welcomes the biggest number of refugees. Over 259,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) are hosted in the East, Adamaoua and North regions, while a further 20,000 reside in urban areas. These alarming statistics served as a point of stimulation for Children Home International to go on the field assess the situation and brainstorm on prospective methods to assist the population, the government and other humanitarian partners in the vision to eradicate severe acute malnutrition in the country.
In the east region, Lom ET Djerem division specifically, localities were randomly selected with children of age 1-5 years in this communities as inclusion criteria. Mothers were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Child height or length and weight measurements were determined and the appropriate Z-scores calculated. Multiple regression analyses were performed with the values of all nutritional status indicators as dependent variables and the time of commencing complementary feeding, and the child’s age and sex, as independent variables. All the participants receive both an educational package of nutritional education consisting of education on the importance of excluding breastfeeding, when to introduce mixed feeding, and how to produced enriched pap with locally produced products, followed by an alimentary package to assist the population. Lastly, all sever and moderately malnourished children identified with the help of the health community worker were channelled to the appropriate health structure for a proper management and follow up.
In a small neighbourhood of Garoua Bulai, we registered 47 cases of malnourished children. This situation led us to design a program where mothers are taught to make enriched pap for babies and start a garden where kids and parents can learn how to successfully grow a variety of nutritious vegetables.
By Dr. Edouma Fabrice, Medical Consultant, Children Home International.