Latest figures show that 38 per cent of children under five are affected by stunting – children too short for their age due to lack of nutrients, suffering irreversible damage to brain capacity.

Kenya’s northern county of Turkana in partnership with international charities on Thursday launched a 500 million shillings (5 million U.S dollars) program to promote health and nutritional statsu of women and children.

Senior officials said the five-year program will focus on community-based interventions to combat malnutrition in a region that has historically grappled with climatic shocks and resource-based conflicts.

“The program we have just launched will strengthen existing interventions to improve health and nutritional outcomes of vulnerable groups like pregnant mothers, infants and children,” said Josphat Nanok, governor of Turkana County.

“We have prioritized investments in interventions that provide a long-term solution to hunger and malnutrition challenges affecting the communities,” he added.

Kenya’s Turkana County that is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO partnered with pan African charity Africare to launch the Improved Approach to Community-based Nutrition in Turkana (IMPACT) program.

The program, which is financed by Bayer Fund, aims to eradicate acute malnutrition through climate resilient farming, access to clean water and improved dietary habits among mothers and their children.

More than 17,000 households will benefit from direct nutrition once the IMPACT program is implemented while training of community health workers on improved management of acute malnutrition will be a major component.

Other interventions will include drilling of boreholes to boost access to safe drinking water, screening and treatment of children at risk of malnutrition alongside sensitization on the importance of consuming nutrient-rich local staples.

Evelyn Simmons, chief of international programs at Africare, said the IMPACT program leverages strategic partnerships and local innovations to promote food and nutrition security agenda in Turkana County.

“We believe that a partnership with the government, private sector and communities will have a huge impact on our nutrition and health improvement program within Turkana and other food-insecure counties,” said Simmons.

Laurent Perrier, chief executive officer of Bayer East Africa, said that investing in health and nutrition programs tailor-made for women and children will revitalize sustainable development in Turkana and other semi-arid Kenyan counties. Enditem

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