Tag Archives: Kenya

Turkana Children in Kenya Continue to Suffer Malnutrition Amid Poor Health Services

Last week, I travelled from the capital city of Nairobi, Kenya, to Turkana County which is in the northern part of the country. Turkana is a largely pastoralist community with a population of 855,000 people. The county faces major problems, chief among them recurring droughts which has for years crippled the county’s economic development.

The lack of adequate rainfall continues to be a source of conflict for Turkana and her neighbours –the Pokot community, as well as the neighbouring countries of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia as they fight for the scarce resources of water and grazing pasture. With the main economic activity being livestock farming, cattle raids are a frequent occurrence in Turkana, which is classified as a High Hazard Probability (HHP) of food, conflict and drought.

Continue reading Turkana Children in Kenya Continue to Suffer Malnutrition Amid Poor Health Services

Exclusive Breastfeeding Rates in Kenya Still Low

By Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, Kenyan motherhood blogger and maternal/child health journalist based in Nairobi.

As Kenya joins the rest of the world in marking the World Breastfeeding Week, health experts in the country are calling on more stringent efforts to be put in place that will encourage more women to exclusively breastfeed their babies. Though the country has noted an increase in the exclusive breastfeeding rates over the last decade, the numbers are still not enough.

Data from the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) show that in 2003, the exclusive breastfeeding rates stood at 13 per cent, and which rose to 32 per cent in 2008. Despite this remarkable improvement, Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mr. James Macharia says that the figures are still not at a desirable level, adding that many Kenyan children still miss out on the important nutritional benefits of breastmilk.

“Out of approximately 1.5 million children born each year in Kenya, only 500,000 of them are exclusively breastfed. This means that over 1 million babies are exposed to the unnecessary risk of malnutrition and increased illness which impact negatively on the country’s road to achieving MDG 4 –that of reducing child mortality,” he says.

New mom at PumwaniA new mother at Pumwani Maternity Hospital on August 1 2014, the day of the launch of the World Brestfeeding Week celebrations in Nairobi at the maternity hospital.

The reasons for the low uptake of exclusive breastfeeding among Kenyan mothers are many. A study conducted by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in two urban slums in Nairobi revealed that only about 2 per cent of children were breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. The study also found out that about 15 per cent of children stop breastfeeding altogether by the end of the first year. Some of the reasons for this low uptake include: poverty, food insecurity, ignorance about best breastfeeding practices, lack of social support, as well as myths and misconceptions about breastfeeding.

Another reason for the low uptake of exclusive breastfeeding is misinformation about breastfeeding when the mother is HIV positive. A significant number of HIV+ Kenyan women think they will transmit HIV to their newborns if they breastfeed them, and so do not offer them breastmilk at all, instead offering them cow’s milk. Notably, and in relation to this, is the fact that the number of Kenyan women who seek antenatal care services (a minimum of four visits during their pregnancy) is only at 47 per cent. Similarly, the number of women who seek postnatal care is 42 per cent. These figures only mean that a large number of women miss out on ideal opportunities for them to receive information about best practices in maternal and newborn health, including information about the extraordinary benefits of breastfeeding.

Working women face barriers too as there are some Kenyan employers who do not adhere to the Kenya Employment Act which offers women a maternity leave of fourteen weeks. Many working women have been called to return work before the end of their maternity leave. Sadly, and despite being aware of the law and its provisions regarding this, many career women agree to return to work before completion of their maternity leave for fear of losing their jobs. Consequently, many middle and upper class working women introduce formula milk to their babies from as early as two months, while the low income women who cannot afford formula milk introduce cow’s milk or porridge to their baby’s diet.

Ignorance also exists among many rural women, who believe that breastmilk alone is not sufficient enough for a baby’s optimal growth and therefore introduce porridge (blended with fish, millet and sorghum) from as early as two months in order to ‘supplement’ the baby’s diet. For many rural communities, a ‘fat’ baby is considered healthy, and many mothers, for fear of reprimand by relatives and health workers about having a ‘think unhealthy baby’ introduce solids to babies (mixed with margarine) at a tender age. Many women in rural communities are yet to be reached with information on the fact that breastmilk alone contains all the nourishment a baby needs for the first six months of life.

Some of the steps the government has made to try and increase the uptake of breastfeeding among Kenyan mothers is the enactment of the Breastmilk and Substitutes (Regulation and Control) Act (2012) which regulates the marketing and distribution of breastmilk substitutes and provides for safe and adequate nutrition for infants through promotion of breastfeeding.

The government has also adopted the Option B+ program, where mothers and their newborns receive ARVs, and which helps keep the baby HIV negative while still enjoying all the benefits of breastmilk.

Terry WefwafwaTerry Wefwafwa, head of nutrition and dietetics at the Ministry of Health. She is hopeful that increased awareness campaigns on breasfeeding will translate into more women taking up the practice.

There have also been awareness campaigns through the media –both mainstream and community radio promoting exclusive breastfeeding. Such campaigns work towards increasing the level of information to not only the women, but also men and other members of the household on the critical role they can play with regard to supporting best breastfeeding practices. It is these awareness campaigns that are giving Kenya’s head of nutrition and dietetics, Mrs. Terry Wefwafwa confidence that the next survey will reveal a significant increase in the number of women exclusively breastfeeding.

“Since the last survey was done in 2008, intense sensitization among communities about the benefits of breasmilk have been done, and I am confident that the uptake on exclusive breastfeeding has increased. This will be evident in the next survey report,” she says.

Maryanne_Waweru pptMaryanne Waweru-Wanyama is a motherhood blogger from Nairobi, Kenya. She tells her motherhood stories on her blog mummytales.com where she also incorporates the experiences of other Kenyan mothers. On her blog, Maryanne provides education on pregnancy, birth, delivery and infant and child care and nutrition. Maryanne is a journalist with over fourteen years experience and who has written, and still writes for various publications in Kenya including: the Daily Nation newspaper, the Star newspaper, the Standard newspaper, Parents Magazine, Healthy Woman Magazine, Healthy Child Magazine and many other publications. Her area of specialty is human interest features, maternal and child health articles. Maryanne is married with two sons.

[Photos] Honoring Women and Girls We’ve Met Around the World

Today on International Women’s Day we honor all of the women and girls we’ve met throughout our travels! Want to celebrate International Women’s Day in an impactful way? Read 4 Easy, But Impactful Ways to Celebrate International Women’s Day.

PHILIPPINES

ETHIOPIA

BRAZIL

INDIA

ZAMBIA

TANZANIA

KENYA

SOUTH AFRICA

8 Beautiful Fair Trade Necklaces for Fall

8 Beautiful Fair Trade Necklaces for Fall
As much as summer was a stellar season, fall is right around the corner. That means new looks for fall and a final culmination of the holiday season. We decided to highlight more products with a purpose that will help women artisans around the globe from Kenya to Nepal. We researched and found these beautiful eight fair trade necklaces. You can also find more at Global Girlfriend, NOVICASERVV, and Fair Trade Designs. Top necklace is the Namusoke necklace from our partner Shanti Uganda.

The Best NGO Video of the Year

I know it’s a little too early to crown a NGO video the best of the year, but this one from Water is Life will be hard to top.

Water is Life created a short film that shows a four-year-old Kenyan boy fulfilling a bucket list from staying at a hotel to flying in an airplane to seeing the beach for the first time. No child should have a bucket list at the age of four. This film put the problem of under 5 child mortality in the world’s face by using the voice of a small child to drive awareness. It’s absurd for a four-year-old child to have a bucket life just as the rate of under five child mortality from bad water and preventable causes is equally as absurd. The video is brilliantly done, which is very hard to do.

Top 10 Social Enterprises Improving the Lives of Women, Girls

The more women and girls can receive a helping hand the better for the entire world’s future. It has been said time and time again that women and girls are the future of so many developing countries and yet they typically linger on the bottom rung of society.

Each year Women Deliver celebrates International Women’s Day by highlighting social enterprises that improve the lives of women and girls worldwide. Out of 25 very deserving organizations 10 made the final cut after public votes were cast. Winners were  announced last Friday.

The winners represent a global mix of organizations that range from helping young girls code to empowering the next generation of women leaders. Each winner will receive a full scholarship to attend Women Deliver’s conference in May that will be held in Malaysia.

Great read: The Impact: What Social Enterprises Can Do for Girls Everywhere

The full list of social enterprise challenge contestants (in alphabetical order) are below.

Black Girls Code

Location: USA and Africa

Website: BlackGirlsCode.com

Educate2Envision International

Location: Honduras

Website: educate2envision.org

G3 Box

Location: Kenya

Website: g3box.org

Global Health Media Project

Location: Global

Website: http://globalhealthmedia.org

New Incentives

Location: Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, India, Bangladesh, and Cambodia

Website: newincentives.org

Teen Revolt

Location: United States

Website: teenrevolt.org

Torath Production

Location: Qatar and Middle East North Africa region

Website: torathproduction.com

VOICE 4 Girls

Location: India

Website: voice4girls.org

Wedu

Location: Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand

Website: wedufund.org

Woman to Woman Foundation

Location: Uganda

Website: facebook.com/womantowomanfoundation

Photo: UN Photo/Stuart Price

4 Prime Sources to Follow for Kenyan Presidential Election News

Today Kenya is holding its presidential election and many are wary that violence may mar the electoral process as it did in the hotly contested 2007 election where over 1000 people were killed during violent outbreaks throughout the country. The hotbed of violence took place in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s largest slums where fighting broke out along tribal lines. Reports of five police deaths have already emerged from Mombassa. Now the world watches closely as the nation votes between main presidential contenders: Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

Must-read: Foreign Policy published a superb history of Kenyan politics that explains why this election is pivotal and wrought with historical significance.

As the elections take place today here are four prime sources to follow for up-to-date news and citizen journalism. 

Uchaguzi - Uchaguzi is Ushahidi’s site for citizens to report everything from positive events to security issues through SMS and Twitter updates.

Uchaguzi’s aim is to help Kenya have a free, fair, peaceful, and credible general election. Uchaguzi’s strategy for this is to contribute to stability in Kenya by increasing transparency and accountability through active citizen participation in the electoral cycles – See more at: http://blog.ushahidi.com/2013/02/11/uchaguzi-kenya-2013-launched/#sthash.CD6wA2aO.dpuf

You can find updates on citizen reports and a gallery of tweets, photos, and videos from the elections.

Al Jazzera: Al Jazeera is publishing a multimedia Kenya election live blog. You can see photos and tweets from the ground as well as regularly updated posts and soundcloud audio.

Al Jazzera has also published an interactive map to find poll data, ethic divisions and live vote coverage.

BBC Africa – As can expected, the BBC has several reporters (Twitter list) on the ground in Kenya to bring us up-to-date reporting during today’s election and its ensuing outcome. In addition to radio spots and traditional web articles, the BBC is publishing tweets from its reporters as well. The BBC has published a gallery of election photos. Find full election coverage at www.bbc.co.uk/news/world/africa

Associated Press: AP reporters are in Kenya publishing updated coverage of the elections through articles and photo. The best photos by far of the elections are coming from AP photographers. See a full gallery: Kenya Votes: Long lines and Violence. Follow the AP’s tags for Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta.

Feature photo credit: Mom Bloggers for Social Good/ Jennifer James

An Optimistic View of Breastfeeding in Ethiopia

Throughout my travels to health facilities in Ethiopia last week with Save the Children I was heartened to see so many positive messages about breastfeeding on posters and printed materials for mothers to take home.  I also saw several mothers breastfeeding their babies everywhere we went.

In Ethiopia 52% of babies are put to the breast within one hour of being born and 52% of babies are exclusively breastfed through six months according to Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers 2012 report. While that number can definitely be improved Ethiopia has been given a “good” rating by Save the Children along with countries such as Rwanda and Eritrea that have percentages for the aforementioned breastfeeding indicators around the 70% range. Only four countries have been given “very good” ratings and they are Malawi, Madagascar, Peru and the Solomon Islands.

Mothers at Health Center, Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, only 51% of  babies are breastfed with complementary foods from 6-9 months, but from 20 – 23 months 82% of all toddlers are still being breastfed. Ethiopia was also given a “good” rating for policy support of the WHO code (International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes).

What I did not like seeing at a government-run hospital’s maternity ward was a promotion for Pfizer Nutrition infant formula. That means a pharmaceutical rep came into the maternity ward and influenced health workers to advise mothers to use infant formula. With a child mortality rate that is not on track to reach Millennium Development Goal 4 in 2015, promoting anything other than exclusive breastfeeding is detrimental to the overall health of Ethiopia’s children. In fact, in Africa babies who are breastfed are six times more likely to survive the first few months of life than non-breastfed babies, according to State of the World’s Mothers 2012.

Formula Marketing in Bishoftu Hospital

Ethiopia should take a page out of Kenya‘s book and enact a new law regarding advertising of  infant formula in health settings. Kenya’s new law now forbids kickbacks from pharmaceutical reps to health workers.

Photos: Jennifer James

Exclusive Breastfeeding Increases in Kenya

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life is what will keep her the most healthy. There is good news out of Kenya. Exclusive breastfeeding has increased to 32% from a mere 13% in 2003. Exclusive breastfeeding helps keep babies healthy and it also provides a buffer for mother to child HIV transmission by four times.

In September Kenya passed a new law regarding advertising infant formula particularly in health settings. Health workers are also no longer allowed to receive kickbacks in any form from formula companies. This is very important because of the influence health workers have on their patients. The new law regarding health workers includes forbids the following.

A health worker or a proprietor shall not:

a) accept from a manufacturer or a distributor of a designated or complementary food product -

(i) a gift;

(ii) financial assistance;

(iii) fellowship, scholarship, research grant, study tour, funding for meetings and conferences, seminars or continuing education courses; or

(iv) sample of a designated or complementary food product;

(b) distribute or display a designated or complementary food product; or

(c) demonstrate the use of a designated or complementary food product to mothers or members of their families unless in such special cases of need as may be determined by the Cabinet Secretary or his representative, in writing.

The new law also requires formula packaging to include appropriate risks of using formula. We cannot forget that having access to clean water is also an issue in Kenya, so using formula for a baby can potentially be life threatening.

According to WHO data the northeastern part of Kenya sees the largest percentage of exclusive breastfeeding through six months. The coastal part of Kenya logs the smallest percentage of exclusive breastfeeding.

In addition to increased exclusive breastfeeding, Kenya is also seeing an increase in babies breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery. According to World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative in Kenya (2012) KDHS shows an improvement on the percentage of babies’ breastfed within one hour of birth from 52.3% (2003) to 58.1% (2008/09). However, this indicator has stagnated between 52% and 58% since 1993 with 2003 registering the lowest prevalence.

To learn more about Kenya’s exclusive breastfeeding increase visit www.irinnews.org.

Photo: United Nations/ Photo by Albert González Farran

10 Global Development Stories to be Thankful For

Typically when we think of global development we focus on everything that is wrong because the challenges are so great. Rarely are the successes celebrated because with every move towards a goal there is still so much to do.

Today we are featuring those stories that have been more about success than failure; more about moving forward than moving backward even if the net result only makes a small dent in the overall scheme of things.

    1. Female Genital Mutilation Banned Under New Somalian Constitution
    2. Path’s Sure Start Program Ensures the Reduction of Maternal Mortality
    3. Living, Thriving with HIV/AIDS: A Mother’s Story
    4. A Return to Normalcy: Mogadishu’s Lido Beach Lively Again
    5. Somalia’s Concerted Move Toward Gender Equality
    6. Men March Against Child Marriage in Liberia
    7. A Promising Trend for Data,Transparency
    8. New Fishing, Agricultural Development Project in Haiti
    9. Quick Impact Project Provides Education for Darfur Children
    10. Powering the Country With Wind Energy

What global development stories are you thankful for?

Photo: Jennifer James, Kenya