URN.Dr. Bernard Omech, a lecturer in the Department of Public Health at Lira University, reveals that the survey was conducted in 48 health centers in 8 districts in Acholi and Lango sub-regions. The study focused on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), nutrition, family planning, and adolescent-friendly services
The level of stunting and wasting in children below five years in Acholi and Lango sub-regions is higher compared to the national average, a new survey has revealed. Wasting is a life-threatening form of malnutrition, which makes a child very thin and weak and increases their risk of dying poor due to poor physical and cognitive development and learning.
While stunting, according to the World Health Organization, is the impaired growth and development that children experience resulting from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if they are too short for their age.
Lira University and NARO Consortium conducted a baseline study in January this year for the implementation of the DINU CHASE Hunger and Poverty, one of the European Union-funded projects purposed to address issues of food insecurity, malnutrition, and agriculture among others.
Dr. Bernard Omech, a lecturer in the Department of Public Health at Lira University, reveals that the survey was conducted in 48 health centers in 8 districts in Acholi and Lango sub-regions. The study focused on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), nutrition, family planning, and adolescent-friendly services
However, Dr. Omech says that the percentage of wasted children in Acholi stands at 5.1 percent while in Lango it is at 7.2 percent, against the national average of 4 percent. The results show that stunting in the two sub-regions is even above the global average. The survey found that 36.9 percent of children in Acholi are stunted and 27.1 percent in Lango, above the global average of 22 percent.
One of the main targets under the sustainable development goal is ending all forms of malnutrition by 2025, the target agreed internationally on stunting and wasting in children below 5 years.
Dr. Omech explains that despite northern Uganda producing a lot of food that flood both local markets and those outside the district, the population lacks information on the dietary diversity needed for proper nourishment.
The study also found that most of the families concentrate on planting cash crops or selling most of the food crops that they produce.
While disseminating the findings of the baseline survey at Little Palace in Kitgum on Tuesday, Dr. Omech revealed that prior to the baseline survey, the problem was attributed to the protracted war that was experienced by the sub-regions, which made many not engage in farming. Northern Uganda experienced violent rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army between 1987-2006.
However, William Komakech, the Kitgum Resident Commissioner, stated that Acholi can no longer use the effect of the war for being poor and malnourished. Komakech notes that the sub-region has been peaceful for over a decade and many recovery projects with huge sums of money have been injected into the sub-region to aid its recovery and development of the people.
Komakech says the Acholi and Lango have the primary resource of production, which island, with some families having as many as 100 acres, unlike other areas where families own as little as two acres.
Stunting is considered an impediment to human development, affecting 162 million children in the world over under 5 years. Dr. Omech thinks the number of stunted and wasted children in the Acholi sub-region will continue, given the high rate of teenage pregnancy.
He says since many of the teenage mothers might not be feeding well, they will give birth to underweight children. He says the project intends to make adolescent-friendly and family planning services easily accessible so that girls don’t get pregnant early and families have the number of mouths they can easily feed.