High prevalence of malnutrition is one of the major public health problems in Nepal. It is one of the leading causes of child mortality & morbidity in the country. Thousands of children miss the opportunity to reach their full potential due to the physical and mental effects of poor nutrition in the critical window of the first 1000 days (period between pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday).
One of the reasons behind this is lack of awareness among the mothers about proper nutritional requirement during the golden 1000 days. Other causative factors behind this problem are improper and inadequate practice of 3Es of breastfeeding (Early initiation, Exclusive and Extended Breastfeeding), inappropriate complementary feeding practices, poverty, poor sanitation, taboos and traditional beliefs etc. Children in all rural, semi-urban & urban communities in Nepal are equally affected by malnutrition.
Realizing the silent emergency of malnutrition in Nepal, we, the Social Changemakers and Innovators (SOCHAI) – a network of youth volunteers, embark on our journey to fight this issue by raising awareness in grass-root communities. Through our Youth For Nutrition Project, we provide nutrition counseling to pregnant and lactating mothers who visit local health center to get their children vaccinated. The unique aspect of our nutrition education and counseling program is our social innovation – the “Nutribeads Bracelet”. This Nutribeads bracelet is an educational tool that is used to make mothers aware about the nutritional requirements of the children in the first two years of life. The Nutribeads bracelet contains a set of colorful beads with numbers. The numbers indicate age interval of the child, whereas each color of the beads represents the specific type of food that much be included in the child’s meal. This colorful bracelet can be worn by the mothers at all time like a beautiful accessory, so that she can remember about the nutritional need of her child at all times.
The Nutribeads bracelet is accompanied by a Nutricard which contains all the information on food type, frequency and additional health promotion messages. Our innovation Nutribeads had won the 3rd High Level Meeting (HLM3) Asia Pacific Youth Innovation Challenge in 2016 organized by the UNICEF in Malaysia. Our ‘SOCHAI – Youth for Nutrition’ project has already provided nutrition counseling to dozens of mothers using the winning social innovation – the Nutribeads bracelet. As a part of this project, we also work with the adolescent girls, school children, youth, local mother’s groups and health workers. Since addressing the issue of malnutrition requires multidimensional approach, we also involve health and hygiene promotion activities in our project.
The contentment of seeing mothers grasp and implement the nutrition information to improve the health of their children has been the most rewarding feeling in this journey. On the other hand, realization of the barriers in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition among the poor is equally heartbreaking for us. So besides awareness and education, we also aim to empower women in the community to become economically independent. By involving women from poor and marginalized communities to make the Nutribeads bracelet and selling it to those who can afford buying, are trying to foster both nutrition awareness and economic upliftment. This way, even the poor families are able to afford nutritious food to make their family happy and healthy.
We are open for collaboration with youth, stakeholders, organizations, institutions from diverse backgrounds to build healthy happy future for our children. You can also be a part of initiative by buying our Nutribeads bracelet. Please can contact us if you are also willing to be a part of our journey to combat malnutrition and poverty in Nepal.
Social Media Handles:
- Twitter: Sochai_YFN
- Instagram: sochai_yfn
- Blog address: https://sochaiyouthfornutrition.wordpress.com/