The World Food Programme’s Cameroon Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Report in October 2022 found that “undernutrition remains a public health concern in Cameroon, underscored by persistently high rates of stunting, wasting, and multiple micronutrient deficiencies. Although the rates in Cameroon have improved in recent decades, the burden of stunting remains high, with 29% of children under the age of five being classified as stunted. Micronutrient deficiencies also remain high, particularly among children under 5 and women of childbearing age. 57% of children aged 6–59 months and 39% of women aged 15–49 years suffer from anaemia resulting from iron deficiency. Another nutrition-related challenge is low birth weight.
The report also found that the causes of malnutrition in Cameroon include:
· General food insecurity with limited dietary diversity.
· Infrastructural issues like limited access to basic social services, inadequate sanitation infrastructure and health care and hygiene practices.
· Gender related norms and practices like early marriage, short birth spacing interval, low level of education, heavy workload for women, low economic empowerment of women, and low relative decision-making power.
- General food assistance in severely food insecure communities, targeted at children aged 6-23 months, and pregnant and lactating women (PLW).
- A range of essential family care practices such as vaccination, deworming and sensitisation of populations on water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) and where necessary, supplementation of iron and folic acid.
- Integrated strategies to prevent malnutrition such as improvement of knowledge and feeding practices for infants, young children, adolescent girls and PLW, and promotion of indigenous solutions and the production and consumption of nutritious food.
our ongoing efforts
Due to the importance of an integrated approach to decrease malnutrition, many of our efforts are multidisciplinary, also being central to other programmes:
- Provision of food and water to schools to incentivise children to attend school and facilitate quality nutrition, coupled with safe sanitation and reproductive hygiene practices.
- Bridgers’ farm producing nutritious food for sustenance, as well as for financial gain and economic growth, to decrease food insecurity.
- Improvement of sanitation infrastructure, health care and hygiene practices, through our WASH, Health and SRH&H programmes.
- Increased knowledge of beneficial feeding practices through the development and promotion of schools in our Quality Education programme.
We currently lack sufficient funds to provide support to all those in need of assistance. Whilst our efforts are making a demonstrable impact in the eradication of malnutrition in Cameroon, with greater funding our efforts could be scaled up. This could include screening of especially vulnerable groups and linkage to appropriate care facilities, or even delivery of specialised nutritional foods, as well as community outreach activities to promote good child feeding practices such as breastfeeding.
References: World Food Programme Cameroon Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment – October 2022