Nutrition of women before and during pregnancy and when breastfeeding is critical in determining the health and survival of the mother and of her unborn baby.
Undernourished pregnant women have higher reproductive risks. They are more likely to experience obstructed labour, or to die during or after childbirth. Poor nutrition in pregnancy also results in babies growing poorly in the womb and being born underweight and susceptible to diseases. These mothers also invariably produce low quality breast milk.
Maternal malnutrition has inter-generational consequences because it is cyclical. Poor nutrition in pregnancy is linked to undernourishment in-utero which results in low birth weight, pre-maturity, and low nutrient stores in infants. These babies end up stunted and, in turn, give birth to low birth weight babies. Optimal maternal nutrition is therefore vital to break this inter-generational cycle.
In Kenya, women’s nutritional needs during pregnancy has not received much attention. This has exposed a gap in efforts to improve maternal and child health.
The Syrian civil war has entered its fifth year with few signs of ending.
The fighting has forced more than 13.5 million Syrians to flee their homes. Most of the displaced have not left Syria, but have simply moved around the country in an attempt to get out of the way of the fighting.
But approximately 4.8 million others have traveled beyond their nation’s borders in a search for security.
In my book Cultures of Migration, I argue that mass migrations and refugee crises don’t simply happen. They have a history and a trajectory. That work has led me to ask: Who are the Syrian refugees? What made their migration happen?
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of food insecurity in the world. An estimated 220 million people lack adequate nutrition. The nature of the problem is shifting rapidly, with overweight status and obesity emerging as new forms of food insecurity while malnutrition persists. But continental policy responses do not address this changing reality.
Food insecurity is the outcome of being too poor to grow or buy food. But it’s not just any food. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s definition, people need:
… sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.
Current policy focuses on alleviating undernutrition through increased production and access to food. It does not focus on the systemic issues that inform the food choices people make. This may result in worsening food insecurity in the region.
I have had the great pleasure of seeing two SOS Children’s Villages: one in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the other in Chicago, Illinois. While they are markedly different the premise is the same and that is to provide quality care with a loving family for children who have been orphaned or abandoned.
The SOS Children’s Village I visited in Chicago looks like many neighborhoods you might see anywhere in America, but it is made up of 17 single-family homes led by a Foster Parent with children who desperately need SOS Children’s Villages services. In fact, the Chicago Village is SOS Children’s Villages first urban village in the world. SOS Children’s Villages provides stable family homes for children who may not have parents at all or may have parents who are incapable of taking care of them properly.