Enhanced Nutrition and Value Chains (ENVAC), an agriculture and nutrition value chain development project by the World Food Programme (WFP), to address stunting and micro-nutrient deficiencies, has been launched in Ghana.
The five-year project (2016-2020) seeks to address the problems of malnutrition, the prevalence of wasting and underweight children and stunting which remain high in the Northern Region of Ghana.
It aims at including smallholder/low-income farmers in the value chains (maize, soybean and cowpea) for the development of nutritious complementary foods, and sensitising the general public, especially women on the benefits of consuming such foods.
Estimated at 15 million dollars under the auspices of the Global Affairs of Canada, the project, taking place in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions, is expected to benefit 10,000 smallholder farmers and their families, 32,000 pregnant and lactating women, 32,000 children from six to 23 months and 3,000 school children among others.
Ms. Magdalena Owusu Moshi, Deputy Country Director of the WFP, said the project focused on child undernutrition to provide adequate nutrition during the 1,000 day window of opportunity which is the critical period from conception till a child’s second birthday, impacts children’s health as well as the country’s economic and social development.
According to Ms. Moshi, the project is structured as a public-private-partnership model and would tie in with the recommendation of Cost of Hunger for Africa’s (COHA) report for Ghana which indicated that Ghana loses GH¢4.6billion, (which is 6.4 per cent of GDP) annually due to child undernutrition, non-governmental organisations and the general public to contribute to achieving all targets under the United Nation’s zero hunger challenge.
Stunting, she said, has reduced across the country to 19 per cent, “but in the Northern Region, one in three children is stunted while anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies continue to affect high percentage of children and women with dire consequences”.
Ms. Tina Guthrie, Counsellor and Senior Director of Development Programme, High Commission, Canada, indicated that Canada was concerned about women and children who suffer from anaemia, stunting or other physical and mental impairments related to malnutrition and that “ENVAC is an innovative way to sustainably address Ghana’s nutrition challenges”.
She said the project would not only increase the availability of nutritious foods for consumers, but also focus on increasing the awareness and understanding of eating a range of nutritious foods to prevent stunting, wasting and a whole host of health problems that stemmed from dietary diversity.
The WFP’s head of programme, Alessia de Catherina noted that stunting level in Ghana is 18.9 per cent with anaemia at 82 per cent.
She said the project would focus on districts with stunting rate above 30 per cent and would also support primary and girls’ education as well as people living with HIV/AIDS.
ENVAC Coordinator, Nanga Kaye, stressed the need for all to work together, manage resources to sustain the project.
From Kingsley E. Hope, Kumasi