MBALE – When Ms Anna Chemutai was growing up, she used to feed on milk, eggs, some greens and other special foods meant for babies in the homes.
She says her parents reasoned that these foods were important for the health of children because these young years are critical for brain development, and that what the children eat affects focus and cognitive skills.
She revealed that her parents knew that as children they had to benefit from balanced nourishment in order to develop in a healthy manner and that nourishment and meals had to be nutritionally filling and contributed to their physical and intellectual development.
“Balanced meals and nourishment were predicated on the correct balance between necessary proportions of nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, minerals, vitamins, fiber and water and in this manner, we avoided malnutrition and problems linked to either excessive eating or dietary insufficiencies,” said Chemutai.
She said although she had maintained the same in her home for her children, the advent of the Covid 19 has changed this and that children now feed on the same food adults feed on.
She added that this is likely to affect the children’s cognitive development in future “because balanced nourishment which is a vital right for the development of the child is lacking,”
This comes at the time a data survey done by Sauti za Wananchi also reveals that 6 out of 10 children aged 6-12 months have the same food as the rest of the household.
This data packet presents citizens’ views and experiences on livelihoods and agriculture in the time of Coronavirus [Covid 19]. What sources of income—agricultural and non-agricultural—do households have? What crops do citizens produce, and have they produced more or less this season than last? Do they store the produce? And what animals do they keep?
“In six out of ten households (61%) with young children (aged 6-12 months), the child(ren) eat the same food as the rest of the household,” reads the data in part released on 13 October seen by PML Daily.
The data comes from Sauti za Wananchi survey, a nationally-representative, high-frequency mobile phone panel survey of public opinion and citizens’ experiences and were collected by the Food Rights Alliance and Twaweza.
The survey reveals further that in rural households (65%), poorer households (67%) and those with lower levels of education (69%), young children are more likely to share the same food as everyone else.
“And we found out that the average number of meals taken per day by children aged between 6 months and five years is 2.7. This rises to an average of 2.8 meals per day in wealthier households and falls to 2.5 meals per day in poorer households (not shown in charts),” said Ms Marie Nanyanzi of Sauti za Wananchi at Twaweza.
Ms Nanyanzi revealed that the survey also found out that three out of four citizens (77%) reported that one or more food products rose in price over the preceding seven days.
“And this is slightly higher in rural areas (80%) than urban (71%). Rural citizens (35%) are also more likely to report that some products have been unavailable than urban citizens (15%),” added Ms Nanyanzi while presenting the survey results.
The data reveals that the products for which price rises are most commonly reported are grain and cereals (40%), pulses, nuts and seeds (28%), sugar and related products (26%) and spices and baking agents (23%). The products most commonly reported as unavailable in the previous week are cereals (12%) and spices (9%).
The finding by Twaweza’s flagship Sauti za Wananchi survey based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey also indicates that seven out of ten citizens report worrying about running short of food in the previous month.
Mr Richard Masereje, an Advocate and Chartered Valuation Surveyor and a managing Partner at Masereje & Co Advocates said it was true that Covid 19 had changed the eating habits in many homes especially in rural homes.
“I will not be surprised to find that all children irrespective of age are eating the same foods with adults, something that is likely to compromise their health,” said Mr Masereje.
Dr Julian Abeso, a pediatrician at Mbale regional hospital said ever since Covid 19 outbreak, there have been increased cases of malnutrition across the region just because there are families that can’t afford daily good food for their children.
“This does not mean that all families are lacking food but the nutritious food meant for children’s growth is not provided for due to financial and food stress,” said Dr Abeso
The data that comes ahead of the World Food day tomorrow [ 16 Oct] presents citizens’ views and experiences on livelihoods and agriculture in the time of Covid 19 adds that seven out of ten citizens (70%) report having worried about running out of food, a majority of citizens (58%) report they have eaten less than they thought they should and that four out of ten citizens (41%) report that their household ran out of food once or more
“Three out of ten households (27%) report that their children have gone hungry while one out of six (16%) report that a child / children went for a whole day without eating at least once,” said reads the report in part further.
The data findings based on data collected from 1,796 respondents across Uganda further says that half of households (48%) report that the stocks of food that they currently have available at their home would last no more than a week, including two out of ten households (21%) that have no food stored at home.
It adds that a further two out of ten (17%) say their food stocks would last no more than a month while Urban households (51%), poorer households (52-55%) and less-well-educated households (49%) are more likely than other households to have supplies of food that would last for no more than a week.
The data reveals that six out of ten households (60%) say their daily food intake has got worse over the previous month; compared to two out of ten (18%) who say their food intake has improved.
“And rural households (63%), poorer households (72%) and those with lower levels of education (64%) are more likely to report a worsening situation as regards daily food consumption,” the survey data report adds.
This comes at the time a per on COVID-19 and Nutrition by physiopedia charity has also said an unhealthy diet is one of the major risk factors for a range of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and even Covid 19.
“A poor diet will lead to nutrient deficiency and this will likely lead to chronic diseases,” the paper adds.
This data packet presents citizens’ views and experiences on livelihoods and agriculture in the time of Covid 19. What sources of income—agricultural and non-agricultural—do households have? What crops do citizens produce, and have they produced more or less this season than last? Do they store the produce? And what animals do they keep?
Further details are available from www.twaweza.org/sauti. The Food Rights Alliance was generously supported in this work by Hivos.