Access to clean water essential in preventing malnutrition

Access to clean water essential in preventing malnutrition

Access to clean water essential in preventing malnutrition

Access to clean water essential in preventing malnutrition

Avelino receives therapeutic milk when a baby

One-year-old Avelino Katende lives with his grandmother Cecília Mariana in the Benguela province of Angola. His mother died when he was only two weeks old and he did not receive the essential nutrition that breast milk provides, especially in the first few months of life.

Avelino’s mother had suffered postpartum complications and malaria. When Avelino was admitted to the municipal hospital of Bocoio, he was diagnosed with complicated malaria, severe anaemia, acute diarrhoeal disease, and marasmus — a severe form of protein-energy malnutrition. 

Malnutrition is a major health problem, especially in developing countries. The main drivers of malnutrition are poverty, hunger, malaria and inadequate water and sanitation.

As the World Bank’s Water Sanitation Programme aptly puts it, “water supply, sanitation and hygiene, given their direct effects on infectious disease, especially diarrhoea, are important for preventing malnutrition”. According to the United Nations Human Development Report, diarrhoea, associated with unclean water and lack of sanitation, claims the lives of about 2-million children under the age of five. Globally, diarrhoea kills more people than tuberculosis or malaria.

The report also states that water-related diseases cost 443-million school days each year, and children in poor health suffer from reduced cognitive potential. This hurts their prospects for future earnings and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

Fortunately for Avelino, he was immediately enrolled into the JAM programme and started to receive therapeutic milk. After a few days of this treatment Cecília could see her grandson recovering. He is now a healthy little boy and Cecília is unable to hide her happiness. 

“Thanks to JAM and the nurses, my grandson has recovered today and I will do everything to protect him and prevent him from falling back into malnutrition and malaria. I ask JAM to continue with this gesture because there are many needy people who miss it [malnutrition], but you have managed to do something. Twapandula [thank you]!” she says with a smile.

Avelino was fortunate, but there are many other children with acute malnutrition in Angola, which is currently experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. 

Through its partnership with Nutriset, the producers of F75 and F100 therapeutic milks, JAM has so far been able to reach 5 819 malnourished children admitted to hospitals in the province of  Kwanza Sul. Of these children, 2 963 have been cured while the rest continue to undergo treatment. Sadly, 145 children have died recently, due to complications. 

To reduce the number of children lost, our nutrition teams have been conducting community level awareness and screening of children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers for early detection and treatment of malnutrition.

Our water, sanitation and hygiene programmes have also installed nine wet water wells in Kwanza Sul and 15 in Benguela and 14 wells/boreholes were rehabilitated. A solar water pump that allows water to be pumped easily was also installed at Cubal hospital where mothers and children have to wait for treatment.

Having clean water is essential in preventing malnutrition in children and also preventing diseases. Clean water is, simply, essential to life.

Access to clean water essential in preventing malnutrition

Cecília holds up a healthy Avelino

Teresa prays for a late harvest

Teresa prays for a late harvest

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World Water Day

Water brings people together

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