Ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030 was one of the main objectives adopted in the Sustainable Development Goals at the end of 2015. An estimated 45% of deaths of children under the age of 5 are linked to malnutrition. The consequences of malnutrition can vary, but they are always a result of poor food intake, and/or poor food quality together with poor hygiene and sanitation, which leads to heightened susceptibility to infections.
One of the most devastating consequences of malnutrition is found in the form of stunting. This is when a child is shorter for their age than they should be and can have severe impaired development of the brain. In Lesotho, child malnutrition in the form of stunting is endemic, and is often found to be directly linked to the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDs virus; creating over 200,000 orphans. This vulnerable population is often at risk of isolation, where the downward spiral of poverty leads to inadequate dietary intake, disease and malnutrition. Many are placed into the care of a sibling, a grandparent or surviving parent. The first 1,000 days are critical for a baby’s health, providing a place for orphaned children to come to and build up their nutrition in the first 2 years of life is vital and the government’s efforts to tackle Lesotho’s long-term malnutrition and food insecurity problems have largely been insurmountable because the tasks are so ambitious. Recently, due to the El Nino weather cycle there has been a drought in Lesotho. Rain is infrequent and a government agreement to export water to South Africa makes water that is tantalizingly close, just out of reach for many. Farmers watch in despair as their crops fail, and when crops fail, people go hungry. A drought jeopardizes food security for over 700,000 people.
Due to this drought, this has created an ever more opportune time for NGO’s to step in and fill the gap. There are only a few NGO’s that are currently in Lesotho, trying to tackle child malnutrition. A famous Lesotho based NGO backed by Prince Harry, Sentebale, is the most well-known, providing support for orphans in a number of ways including providing community camps for children and young adults. However, there are other NGO’s also working in the region on getting to grips with similar problems. One of these NGO’s is Msizi Africa, which is on the ground daily, combatting malnutrition. Lineo, who started as a volunteer and is now Assistant to the Country Director at Msizi Africa Lesotho says:
“We visited 2,000 households and it was an experience I will never forget. I am a Basotho woman and I have been raised here so I know what poverty looks like but I saw poverty that made me want to help now. Children are struggling to survive.”
Msizi Africa has recently launched a crowd funding campaign ‘#mphokoishungry’. Crowdfunding and other types of alternative finance are expected to raise over $2billion for projects, startups, and charitable causes in Africa. Msizi Africa aims to raise £34,415 to feed a little girl called Mpokho, and 70 other children in her village. Rhea Varma, the charity’s Nutritionist said:
“in my many years of working in Lesotho, seeing Mpokho both broke my heart and deeply shocked me. I have never seen anything like it – she is almost 4 years old, but is the size of a one-year-old. Her stunting is off the charts and I’m desperately worried about her. We need to help her – fast. We could be dealing with the deaths of tiny, vulnerable children and this is unthinkable.”
Funding from this campaign will be used to set up an emergency feeding centre. This will be where children left alone by the AIDS crisis and hungry by the drought that Lesotho is currently facing are able to receive the care and nutrition they need to live healthy lives. With the UN saying that $16 is returned on every $1 invested, small donations can make a big difference. That’s why crowdfunding has emerged as a great strategy to achieve goals for NGO’s, who are not backed by major donors. The fight against malnutrition doesn’t always start with government policy. It can start and grow with donations from like-minded people all over the world, contributing to eradicate the problems of malnutrition.
If you wish to see more about the work of Msizi Africa, please follow this link: http://msiziafrica.org.uk/
Feature Image: UNICEF Ethiopia
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
Have an opinion on this or another topic? Why not write for our blog? Click here to find out more and get in touch.