Zero2Five has made great strides in the fight against child hunger and malnutrition since 2014 and we continue to seek prevention measures for malnutrition in young children, so that they can thrive and have their best start in formal schooling. We are actively campaigning for adequate nutrition for young children on ECD and community levels and host training workshops for practitioners and parents on an ongoing basis.
Nutritional wellbeing of children plays a critical role in their development and worldwide research has shown that nutritional deficiencies can seriously impact cognitive, physical and other developmental areas for young children. The National Development Plan (NDP) and the ECD Policy Framework recently adopted by Cabinet have recognised this need and have placed a priority on addressing quality access to ECD services, which includes a holistic focus on child development.
A review of South Africa’s MDG (Millennium Development Goals) performance paints a grim picture in respect of food and nutrition security for all South Africans and mortality and wellbeing outcomes for young children more specifically. This situation has been exacerbated during the years of COVID-19 and the soaring food prices in 2022. Nutrition is very crucial towards the development of the children accessing the Early Childhood Development services by fostering investment towards improving the nutritional value of the food being fed to the children at the ECD centres will have a positive impact towards the development of these children.
A case study of our work can be found on page 108 of the 2020 Child Gauge by the University of Cape Town’s Children Institute. The theme of the 2020 issue – “Food and nutrition security” – draws attention to the slow violence of child malnutrition and identifies critical points for intervention across the life course, motivating for urgent, early and sustained investment in order to reduce the burden of stunting, obesity and non-communicable diseases; improve children’s health, education and employment prospects; and drive national development.
ECD CENTRES: CRITICAL SITES FOR NUTRITION SURVEILLANCE
Project duration: January 2023- Decembers 2025 (3 years) in the Alfred Nzo District, Eastern Cape
The Khula Nathi project aims to strengthen the bi-directional referral of children from ECD centres to health facilities by incorporating nutrition surveillance into the basic package of services offered to ECD practitioners.
The goal is to extend the project to reach 6500 children at 300 ECD centres, providing the practitioners and supervisors with the knowledge and skills to enable the centres to act as nutrition surveillance critical points for the early detection and referral of growth faltering in the community.
What we hope to achieve with this model:
- Improved maternal and child health, for families of children enrolled in Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres and their surrounds;
- Enhanced access to an extended range of quality services critical to early childhood development;
- Early detection of growth faltering and malnutrition at ECD Centres and their surrounds, for nutrition intervention and referral;
- Improved referral linkages to health services (local clinics) for children with suboptimal nutrition;
- Prevention of non-recovery of identified SAM, MAM and growth faltering children at ECD Centres;
- Improvement of follow up care for discharged patients