Nutrition Education in Rural Sololá
Population of Sololá: 563,000 (INE) Rate of Chronic Malnutrition in children under five in Sololá: 66% (USAID)
Strengthening Nutrition Education and Intervention in Rural Sololá
In 2017, Hospitalito Atitlán partnered with the IZUMI Foundation to launch the project “Nutrition Education in Rural Sololá”. Focusing on the “Window of 1000 days”—the time from conception to birth—the project has trained hundreds of health workers, created an illustrated recipe booklet focusing on the utilization of locally available ingredients, performed hundreds of cooking demonstrations around the department and provided free supplements and medical care for 250 malnourished children. The success of the program has been made possible by partnerships with government agencies such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and the Secretariat for Food Security.
Despite the successes of the first three years of the project, Hospitalito Atitlán sees more need than ever to continue working to address malnutrition, especially with the extreme food scarcities that have resulted as effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this is mind, in 2020 Hospitalito Atitlán began “Strengthening Nutrition Education and Intervention in Rural Sololá”, a three year initiative again with the support of the IZUMI foundation with the goal to provide targeted education and interventions that contribute to a reduction of malnutrition in children under five in the department of Sololá.
A major component of the first phase of the project was the creation of illustrated booklets, in three Maya languages, focusing on the importance of good nutrition during a child’s first 1,000 days of life (see below). The materials provide education about accessible, affordable and nutritious food in a culturally appropriate manner, information on how to prevent and identify malnutrition, and nutritious recipes that promote healthy eating.
The new initiative will run from July 2020 – June 2023.
Its objectives include:
- Training 250 healthcare workers to provide better preventative education during home visits and being able to respond to children with malnutrition.
- Making 15,000 home visits to deliver brochures and provide individualized nutrition counseling.
- Creating radio spots to transmit the importance of adequate nutrition for children in the three local Maya languages — Tz’utujil, Kaqchikel and K’iche — aimed at reaching 100,000 listeners.
- Holding 54 cooking classes for mothers and caregivers of children with acute malnutrition, providing them with practical education and helping them to formulate individual nutrition plans.
- Distributing Super Atol to children with malnutrition monthly for six months and creating a database to monitor their weight and height.
- Planting a family garden for families with children identified by SESAN with acute malnutrition.
- Initiating the pilot project Comienzo Saludable (Healthy Start) in Santiago Atitlán, which will include 36 clubs (12 each year) for pregnant women, as well as Child Health Days in Cerro de Oro, San Antonio Chacayá and at the Metzabal finca (farm).
- Buying zinc and polinsana for children who present with malnutrition during Child Health Days.
Nutritionist Kanami Tomina – from Ritto-shi, Shiga, Japan – was instrumental in the program’s elements and implementation. Kanami joined the staff in February 2017 for two-years as a volunteer from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.