SHIKARPUR - There is a need for greater collaboration between sectors if rural communities want to achieve healthy sustainable nutrition practices. This point was emphasised during a two-day field visit and experience-sharing workshop organised by the European Union-funded Programme for Improved Nutrition in Sindh (PINS). PINS is supporting the Government of Sindh’s Accelerated Action Plan for the Reduction of Stunting and Malnutrition in Sindh (AAP) and members of its taskforce secretariat, including Programme Manager MB Dharejo, participated in the field visit to Shikarpur prior to a one-day workshop. There, they were able to speak with members of the Local Support Organization Awaz which is piloting paddy-fish farming. They also observed how the community is cultivating kitchen gardens through a Farmer Field School. This is geared towards improved access to a variety of food groups and PINS is coordinating with several government departments such as Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to ensure better dietary diversity.
The participants also visited Village Organization Khabri, which has successfully managed to become open defecation free, with the construction and adoption of latrines. Getting villages to construct latrines is crucial, as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices have a huge impact on nutrition. Even where better nutrition practices are introduced, children can lose valuable nutrients through diarrhea without good hygiene practices with PINS also working towards certifying 1,938 Village Organisations as Open Defecation Free.
The first-day ended with a District Coordination Committee on Nutrition meeting at the DC office where district Shikarpur’s overall progress under the AAP, with representatives from the 8 departments under it present, was discussed and action points for more seamless implementation were laid out.
An experience-sharing workshop was held the following day where members from LSOs across Shikarpur, Larkana and Qambar Shahdadkot had a chance to talk about the strides they have taken towards better nutrition, the issues they have faced in the year of implementation and the way forward. Basheera, President of LSO Mohenjodaro, Larkana credited the EU’s support in enabling her to talk about how her community is working together to reduce stunting prevalent in the area.
In Sindh, around 48 percent of children under 5 are stunted, a crisis for which the AAP was launched to combat. Stunting has long term mental and physical impacts on a child that impacts their whole life. The European Union is committed to support countries in reducing the number of stunted children under five by 7 million by 2025 and has contributed EUR 60 million to support the AAP with the Programme for Improved Nutrition in Sindh, launched in January 2018.
The two-day mission was organised by the Rural Support Programmes Network, with its implementation partner Sindh Rural Support Organisation, both of whom are part of the partnership implementing PINS.