Sao Rukroeurn with her eight-month old baby Raksar
Kongkea Chhoeun speaks with Ms. Sao Rukroeurn, a beneficiary of the World Food Programme’s Mother and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN) Programme about its impact on her and her child’s health.
Sao Rukroeurn, a 28-year-old mother of three lives in Bakan district, Pursat province, with her husband. Their only asset is a hectare of low-fertile rice paddy, so they supplement this by growing homestead vegetables, hunting and fishing in order to meet their household consumption needs. Despite their efforts, there is just never enough food; Sao has had three miscarriages due to lack of proper nutrition and overwork.
To make matters worse, Sao’s husband has not been able to work due to a snake bite, which left his leg swollen. She explains “I had to take out more loans when my husband fell ill, we now have US$750 in loans. I did not know how I would pay it back”.
Sao was chosen to be a recipient of WFP’s Mother and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN) programme due to her history with miscarriages. She reflects “my pregnancies have always been difficult due to sickness and weakness. I could not even produce enough milk for my children.” When she was pregnant for the sixth time, she started receiving a monthly mixed-food ration from WFP, consisting of Corn Soy Blend (a highly-fortified porridge), sugar and vitamin A-fortified vegetable oil. The food ration, intended for both mother and child (6 to 23 months) makes up at least 77 percent of a child’s energy and most of the micronutrient requirements, as well as one-third of the requirements for pregnant and lactating women. Sao noted “I had a lot more energy and didn’t fall sick during my last pregnancy. I was also able to produce enough milk-the CSB really made a drastic difference”. She gave birth to a beautiful and healthy 3.5kg baby boy, who she named Raksar. Sao has also been able to produce enough breast milk for him and he now weighs a healthy 7.5kg at eight months.
WFP’s food ration is also helping to lift the burden of household consumption off Sao’s shoulders. She explains “the CSB for me and Raksar means there are two less mouths to feed which saves a little money for loan repayments”.
In addition to nutrient-rich food, WFP and its implementing local NGO partner, Reproductive and Child Health Alliance (RACHA) provide vital information on health, hygiene, and nutrition, including infant and young child feeding practices, while also promoting the utilization of local health services. Such knowledge-transfer ensures mothers know how best to take care of themselves and their children, even without WFP’s direct support. Sao’s children are now protected against many diseases after she learned about the importance of vaccinations and where to get them from.